The Bama local government area (LGA) has been severely affected by the conflict in north‐east Nigeria. Bama town, the second largest in Borno State, was repeatedly attacked between May 2013 and September 2014 and finally seized by non‐state armed groups (NSAGs), who turned it into their headquarters. Close to the border with Cameroon, it was once a thriving commercial hub, home to at least 270,000.
The Nigerian armed forces regained control of the LGA in March 2015 but civilian administration has not yet officially returned. Civilian authorities visit the town regularly to support the ongoing humanitarian and recovery efforts but do not have a permanent presence in Bama.
An informal settlement established by the military in the General Hospital site was set up 2015 for more than 15,000 IDPs. International humanitarian aid started reaching these IDPs in June 2016.
A new camp was established at the Government Senior Science Secondary School (GSSS) in Bama to decongest the first IDP camp. Relocation to GSSS took place in December 2017, and the camp currently hosts 23,000 IDPs. Humanitarians are working to ensure that all basic services are provided in this new site. At the same time, with additional IDPs arriving regularly from other parts of the north‐east, for reasons related to insecurity and military operations, GSSS is currently in ‘high congestion’ status and new land is urgently required.
Telecommunications in Bama were restored through a major mobile network operator in December 2017.
The federal and state governments, along with the support of some private organisations, have embarked on a large‐scale rehabilitation effort of the LGA – the so‐called “Bama Initiative” ‐ to lay the foundation for the safe and voluntary return of IDPs when conditions are deemed conducive. So far, about 10,000 houses, 57 hand water pumps, 154 classrooms have been renovated or built by the government.
In March 2018, the state government approved the return of 120,000 IDPs to Bama town. As of August 2018, more than 16,000 IDPs had already returned.
However, the security situation in Bama LGA remains volatile, and concerns regarding the protection of civilians are high. The last attack on Bama by a NSAG was reported on 17 July 2018, and in September 2018 there was a major attack on the road to Bama (in Konduga). Freedom of movement is also severely restricted. A Returns Policy Framework has been signed by the UN and the Borno State Governor to ensure relocations are coordinated with humanitarian partners and are voluntary, well‐informed and safe.
The Bama Initiative represents a key opportunity in a defined geographic area to address immediate humanitarian needs while establishing the foundations for community recovery and resilience. This would require an urgent scale‐up of resilience‐building and development activities, in support of the state.
The only locations which have a permanent humanitarian presence in Bama LGA are Bama town and Banki. Insecurity is preventing access to locations outside of those two towns.
On 24 March 2018, the state government in collaboration with the Nigeria Army opened the 70km Maiduguri‐Bama road to after it was closed for over four years following major insecurity.
Humanitarian cargo and public vehicles can reach Bama town by road without armed escort. Aid workers are transported by helicopter on the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS).
In May 2017, the construction of a humanitarian hub started. The hub became operational in August 2017, and hassince been providing aid workers with secure accommodation and internet connectivity.
An armored car has been deployed at the hub to facilitate the movement of missions and to support evacuation of humanitarian staff in case of an emergency.
Humanitarian assistance and Nexus Implementation
For the past year, IDPs in Bama town had been living in one informal, congested and closed site. As of mid‐September 2018, the informal camp hosted over 23,000 Individuals (6,854 Households), largely from other parts of the Bama LGA, namely Kumshe, Nduguno, Dipchari, Jere and Dar‐Jama. Prospect for return in those communities is not immediate and IDPs might continue relying on humanitarian assistance until the conditions for return are favorable.
Since 2018, the influx of new arrivals in Bama town from hard‐to‐reach areas has further exacerbated the humanitarian situation in the camp. Newly arriving IDPs are being screened by the military before being integrated into the camps, with life‐ saving support provided by the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and aid groups. Thus far, more than 15% of the camp population registered are from hard‐to‐reach areas, including 1,076 children. Nutrition screening was conducted for 492 children: 43% were suffering from acute malnutrition and 25% were from severe acute malnutrition.
In terms of health care needs, cases of acute respiratory infections, malaria, measles and malnutrition are regularly reported. There is a lack of ambulances to facilitate the referral of patients to Maiduguri for complex medical issues.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.