Nigeria + 1 more

Interagency Initial Rapid Needs Assessment: Damasak LGA, Borno State, Nigeria - 11th March 2017


Background & Context:

Damasak is the head town of Mobbar LGA, in the North-East Nigerian, state of Borno. It is located near the confluence of the Yobe River and Komadugu Gana River, adjoining the border with Niger 34km from Diffa in Niger and 3km between Damasak and the border with Niger.

Boko Haram insurgents occupied Damasak on 24 November 2014. During the period of occupation, the vast majority of people sought refuge in Niger. The recapture of the locality by the Nigerian Army on 30th June 2016 triggered waves of returns of thousands of people. According to the military commandant, Damasak became accessible to the general public as of 26th December 2016, and as of 26 February 2017, 10,100 households (approx. 65,000 individuals) in Damasak had been assisted by ICRC (registration for food distribution purpose).

Damasak is split into two communities, namely, Kanuri and Fulani. There is also a small group of Hausa. Damasak town is made up of two districts - Dashari and Damasak; and has 15 community leaders and 13 Wards. However, many Wards are still inaccessible and remain unoccupied by civilians; former residents of these inaccessible areas currently sheltered in Damasak town.


Damasak is the third largest town in Borno State after Maiduguri and Bama. Damasak town is approximately 185km North West of Maiduguri and is accessed by two primary roads. One heads south to Gubio and Maiduguri, and the other heads east towards Kukawa and Baga. According to Military Commandant, the road between Damasak and Niger is open and can be used without escort. The city of Diffa in Niger is 34km away from Damasak. Sayam Forage and Kabelewa camps respectively in Chetimari Commune and Kabelewa Commune in Diffa Region, on the road between Damasak and Niger, accommodate Nigerian refugees. During this mission Damasak was reached by UNHAS helicopter. The landing site is located within 145 Battalion HQ. This visit was the second of its kind, the first visit was by UNDSS, OCHA and UNHAS for security assessment.

According to the military, the road from Damasak to Maiduguri was made accessible on 25 December 2016, and can now be used without escort. ICRC and MSF have used the road many times without escort, local community traders confirmed as well. ISWA use the road between Gubio and Damasak as crossing points at night for supplies and movements. In general, it is recommended to use the road during daytime, i.e. not before 0700AM as it is the regular time for military movement on that road and not after 0500PM.

Purpose & Objectives:

NEMA reported that over 10,000 Nigerians households returned to Damasak from Niger since February 2017 and other reports of new arrivals continue to be received. NEMA thus requested an emergency humanitarian assessment to address the needs of thousands of returnees to Damasak.

NEMA through OCHA led discussions on the humanitarian situation in Damasak on 03 March 2017. This was followed by an emergency multisector assessment planning meeting on 08 March 2017 at UNHCR where participants agreed to conduct an interagency initial rapid assessment mission to Damasak on 11 March 2017. OCHA facilitated the Interagency 10 member mission2 which was led by UNHCR, with the participation of NEMA, WFP, IOM, WHO, UNICEF and NRC representing the various Sectors.

The two key objectives of the interagency mission were:

  1. Assess the humanitarian needs and identify areas of priorities for interventions.
  2. Assess the sustainability of the return.


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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