Mr Bukar was fleeing the murders of civilians by the Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria, taking his wives, his sons, their wives and grandchildren with them.

They slept in a car park "until a man took pity on us", he said.

About a million people have flooded the capital of Borno state to escape the insurgency that Boko Haram has waged since 2009.


The camps set up for the displaced are not sufficient, so many residents of Maiduguri opened their doors to these victims of conflict.

But now, years later, the refugees still cannot return to their homes, and struggling city residents are starting to blame the influx for problems in the community.

Between 70 and 90 per cent of the displaced in Maiduguri have relied on the compassion of the local people to survive.


Mr Bukar and his family have never stayed at a camp. He said a merchant welcomed them into his home and fed them for a year, but then they had to leave because the financial burden became too much.

Today the family is living in a so-called "hosting community", one of hundreds of such private places where refugees are sheltered around the city.

"I couldn’t just sit there and watch people die of hunger, I had to help them," said Baba Kura Al Kahi, a local businessman who heads these hosting communities. He made his fortune in real estate and turned over some of his land to the displaced in 2013.


Today many refugees are squatters on construction sites, in schools, in public housing, while thousands of others are taken in by relatives or members of their ethnic group, often Kanuri or Hausa.

Neighbours have organised aid, growing food for the most needy, bringing them clothes and sheets and cooking utensils.

But "resources are overstretched, especially with regards to water and sanitation, with regards to hospital facilities, with regards to even food security issues," said Kashim Shettima, the governor of Borno.


Still Maiduguri, after years of being under siege, has a semblance of normal life compared with the Borno’s devastated hinterland.