In A Year With A Record Number Of Refugees, One Woman — A Mother Of 7 — Mother Tells Her story : Goats and Soda She's one of a record 65 million refugees in the world today. Home is now a makeshift camp in Niger, buffeted by Sahara desert sands and winds.

One Mother's Perspective On What It's Like To Be A Refugee

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We're going to go now to a refugee camp in Niger. It's a desolate place in the desert home to thousands of people who have fled Boko Haram militants. Many people who live there have come from just across the border in Nigeria. They are a fraction of the 65 million people worldwide who are refugees, asylum-seekers or internally displaced. The U.N. says on this world refugee day, that is the highest number ever recorded. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton has this report.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: (Singing in foreign language).

OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: Close your eyes, and you wouldn't know these lively children singing are in Assaga refugee camp in Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: (Singing in foreign language).

QUIST-ARCTON: It's almost a year since Boko Haram attacked a village in Northeastern Nigeria, forcing Falmata Baba Gana and her family to flee across the nearby border into Southeast Niger's Diffa region. The 30-year-old and her seven children arrived at Assaga refugee camp and are still traumatized by the bloodshed they witnessed at home, she said.

FALMATA BABA GANA: (Through interpreter) During Ramadan fasting last year, Boko Haram came to our village, rounded up the men at the mosque and killed about a dozen and burned down our market. Even now the children dream about Boko Haram and cry. They still tremble. I still tremble.

QUIST-ARCTON: Baba Gana and 6,000 refugees from Nigeria and people displaced within Niger's Diffa border region live at Assaga camp. It's located along the country's main east-west highway, windblown by Sahara Desert sands with little protection from the blistering sun. Flimsy straw structures and plastic sheeting pass for dwellings. Baba Gana says they still feel vulnerable.

BABA GANA: (Through interpreter) We feel safer this side of the border, but we fear there may be more terrifying Boko Haram raids.

QUIST-ARCTON: Boko Haram has indeed struck in Niger, claiming to have killed more than 20 soldiers recently and uprooting about 50,000 people in this southeast border area. Some were fleeing for the second or third time. That's partly because a military coalition of Nigeria and neighboring countries has scattered Boko Haram fighters from their Northeastern Nigerian strongholds. In response, the militants have increased their cross-border raids. Niger's humanitarian affairs and disaster management administer, Magagi Lawan...

MAGAGI LAWAN: (Through interpreter) Because of the Boko Haram situation, we have reinforced security and are trying to tackle the problems regarding the lack of food.

QUIST-ARCTON: That's right. In addition to the security problems, Niger has a food shortage. The unrest has disrupted the country's economy, and now the 80,000 Nigerians who fled here to Niger and at least double that number of internally displaced people struggle to find jobs. Refugee Falmata Baba Gana says they're hungry.

BABA GANA: (Through interpreter) Back home, we ate three meals a day. Now it's very difficult. Children can't even concentrate at school because often they don't have food. And we don't have sufficient drinking water.


QUIST-ARCTON: Still, playful children sing and draw water from the well at Niger's Assaga refugee camp. Women in colorful clothes huddle to discuss their problems. Men search for firewood, and jobless young men fiddle with mobile phones, hoping they'll soon be able to return home - not much chance of that. Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR News, Diffa, Southeastern Niger

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