On December 12, at least 34 civilians were killed, and a substantial number injured in Toumour village (Diffa region) by non-state armed groups. Among the victims, 10 children (5 girls and 5 boys) were killed, and 6 others (4 girls and 2 boys) were maimed. The presence of non-state armed group elements in the border regions with Burkina Faso and Mali, as well as the Lake Chad remains a primary concern.
2,798 cases of measles were recorded in 2020 in Niger, with 13 deaths, affecting almost all health districts. UNICEF has contributed to the response to the measles epidemics this year through the purchase and supply of vaccines, as well as operational costs.
From January to December 2020, the Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) recorded 133 alerts on displacement of population and shocks, and conducted 101 multisectoral assessments and 09 rapid assessment, as well as 68 rapid protection assessment in Diffa, Maradi, Tahoua and Tillaberi regions. In response to shocks and assessments, RRM actors provided NFI and shelter assistance to more than 14,000 affected households for more than 94,000 beneficiaries, and WASH assistance to 92,000 beneficiaries, including 49,000 children. In the meantime, the RRM provided an individual protection assistance to more than 1,000 people with specific needs.
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
Humanitarian Needs Overview: 2020 was a particularly challenging year with the combination of the COVID-19 pandemic, exceptionally heavy flooding, and an aggravated security situation. The 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan was revised in July: it has been estimated that 3.7 million people in Niger were in need of humanitarian assistance, including about 2 million children, an increase by 800,000 people compared to the previous estimate of 2.9 million (2020 Humanitarian Response Plan, July revision). The needs analysis shows the persistence of five major crises affecting the country: food insecurity, malnutrition, epidemics including COVID-19 pandemic, floods and population movements due to conflict and irregular migration. According to this revised version of the 2020 HRP, 2.2 million people (+27%) are targeted for non-COVID-19 response with an updated budget of 433.8 M USD (+8%). The Food Security sector increased target and budget by 33%; other sectors with a major increase in people targeted are protection, nutrition, shelter/NFI and health. The revised HRP also includes an amount of 82.3 M USD for COVID-19 response (66.6 M USD for health activities) for a new HRP total budget of 516.1 M USD. The COVID-19 HRP targets 3.1 M people in the country. Exceptional heavy flooding affected the country with more than 630,000 people affected and negative impact on access to services as education, with 94 destroyed classrooms, in addition to the loss of housing and goods. Moreover, the growing number of internally displaced persons, refugees and migrants, increases the vulnerability of host communities. During the year, the total number of IDPs increased by 58% (+109,753 persons) compared to 2019, with Tillaberi and Tahoua regions being the most affected regions (total of 138,229 IDPs, an increase by 47% over the last 12 months) (UNHCR - Map of Population of Concern Dec 2020). In total, there were 298,458 internally displaced persons, 229,905 refugees in Niger at year-end.
In partnership with government and NGOs, UNICEF continued to provide multisectoral and coordinated assistance to the affected population, both through an emergency approach to assist the most vulnerable populations immediately after a shock, and through longer terms interventions to guarantee durable solutions.
Access continues to be very limited due to continuous insecurity and to a cumbersome civil-military coordination process. Field missions are frequently cancelled due to incidents and/or non-state armed groups activities and lack of access is slowing down program implementation and monitoring. The imposition of armed escorts by the government for all movements outside urban areas represents a major barrier to access the affected communities. In line with humanitarian principles and HCT position, UNICEF suspended all field missions requiring an armed escort, with heavy consequences to the delivery of assistance. Dialogue is ongoing with the Government and the humanitarian community and UN Agencies.
COVID-19 pandemic1 : Following the confirmation of the first positive case of COVID-19 on March 19th, 2020 in the capital city Niamey, UNICEF worked closely with the Government and its partners to step up the response and prevent further proliferation of the COVID-19 pandemic across the country, already facing the consequences of multiple crises (nutrition, conflicts, natural disasters). In 2020, Niger experienced two waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, eventually reaching all regions albeit to different degrees. The first wave (March to July), with 1,135 cases and 69 deaths (6.08% lethality) for 10,809 people screened, recorded a higher lethality (delay in treatment) than the second (from September onwards), with 2,192 cases and 35 deaths (lethality of 1.60%) for 51,612 screenings. The continuous strengthening of screening services allowed for a five-fold increase in the number of people tested for COVID-19. Niamey region recorded 73% of the country's recorded cases and 52% of deaths. Children under 18 represent 267 cases or 8% (including 16 cases among those under 5). 18% of recorded cases were among health agents. Cumulatively, with 3,327 recorded positive COVID-19 cases (71% men and 29% women) and a total of 104 deaths (case fatality 3.12%), Niger has among the lowest number of recorded deaths from COVID-19, albeit among the highest specific case fatality ratios in sub-Saharan Africa (Africa CDC Dec 2020; WHO Afro Situation Report). In December, to address the deteriorating situation affecting the whole country with an increasing trend of cases since November 06 and a peak at the end of December, the Government adopted some measures to contain the spread of the disease, including the closure of all schools for 2 weeks in December.