Internal Displacement in North East Nigeria: Operationalising the Kampala Convention in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states



As a result of the non-international armed conflict between the Nigerian Government and the armed opposition (Jama’atu Ahlu s-Sunnati lil-Da’wa wal-Jihad / Islamic State West Africa Province group), more than 1.76 million people are internally displaced in the North Eastern region of Nigeria. The total number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in North East and North Central Nigeria is estimated at over 2 million people, making Nigeria host to the six largest IDP population in the world.

Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States currently have the largest number of IDPs, with approximately 1.68 million persons who have been displaced as a result of the conflict, including approximately 528,000 IDPs in Maiduguri Metropolis, Borno State. Given the large scale of the displacement, and the ongoing instability in many Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the North East of Nigeria, the Federal and State Governments have been facing, and continue to face, a critical humanitarian situation that is not expected to end anytime soon.

As a State Party to the African Union Convention for the Assistance and Protection of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (the “Kampala Convention”), the Nigerian Government has the primary duty and responsibility to assist and protect IDPs in its territory, with support from humanitarian organisations where needed. It is also obliged to incorporate the Convention into the domestic legal framework and promote conditions for voluntary, dignified and safe durable solutions to displacement.

In line with its obligations under the Kampala Convention, Federal and State Government Ministries,
Departments and Agencies have been responding to the needs of IDPs through various protection and assistance interventions, with the support of international and local humanitarian actors, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). However, given the scale and complexity of the displacement, the ICRC has observed throughout 2015 and 2016 that the humanitarian response is far from meeting the assistance and protection needs of IDPs.

In light of the critical humanitarian situation in the North East, the aim of this report is to assess the situation of IDPs in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, through the framework of the Kampala Convention. In doing so, the report seeks to highlight the current gaps and challenges in meeting the needs of IDPs and provide concrete recommendations to improve protection, assistance and durable solutions for IDPs. The report is based on findings from research carried out in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States, as well as the Federal Capital Territory, between September 2015 and September 2016. The research included interviews with 550 IDPs in 31 locations, 7 focus group discussions, and 72 interviews at Federal, State and Local Government levels with stakeholders involved in assisting and protecting IDPs, including 41 interviews with civilian authorities and 15 with military and security forces.

The ICRC hopes that the findings and recommendations contained in this report can serve as a policy tool for the Nigerian Government in their response to conflict-induced internal displacement in the North East of Nigeria. Ultimately, the goal is to achieve better protection and assistance for IDPs through more effective “operationalisation” of the Kampala Convention, particularly in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States.