Lake Chad Basin: Crisis Update No. 24 (May - June 2018)
- New displacements on the rise as conflict persists
- Several new attacks in Nigeria and Cameroon
- First joint mission in 2018 conducted in Bosso
- Modalities agreed to ease return of Nigerian refugees in Cameroon
- Food insecurity remains high, expected to persist in 2019
CONFLICT AND DISPLACEMENT
Over the past two months, thousands of civilians have been freshly displaced and relief operations disrupted as armed attacks persist, particularly in north-east Nigeria and Far North region of Cameroon. In north-east Nigeria alone, around 2,600 people were freshly displaced in late June. In all, more than 100,000 have been newly displaced in Nigeria’s north-east since October 2017 owing to persistent insecurity, attacks, military operations and poor living conditions. In June, bomb attacks in Diffa in the south-east of Niger and in Cameroon’s Far North region forced aid groups to suspend operations.
In Cameroon, the attack occurred in a locality hosting displaced people.
Displacements often separate families and accentuate suffering as access to food, water, healthcare and other basic needs diminishes. Those newly forced to flee their homes usually find refuge in other villages, towns or in existing displacement sites where the residents also endure difficult living conditions. Where security has improved, thousands of people have returned. However, they struggle to restart their lives having lost much of their property. Humanitarian organizations continue to call for support so that their return can be sustainable.
The protracted crisis has exposed civilians to frequent rights violation and abuse. In Chad’s western Lac region, aid actors recorded 323 incidents of rights violations between January and April 2018. They included violations of the right to life, property, freedom, physical integrity and gender-based and sexual violence. Armed gangs are blamed for the violations. The military has also been accused of rights abuses. In a move welcomed by UNICEF on 9 July, the Nigerian military released 183 children aged 7 – 18 who had been detained on suspicion of belonging to an armed group.
Since 2017, UNICEF has supported the social and economic reintegration of more than 8,700 children released from armed groups, helping trace their families, returning them to their communities, and offering them psychosocial support, education, vocational training and informal apprenticeships, and opportunities to improve livelihoods.
In Cameroon, the Technical Working Group on voluntary repatriation of Nigerian refugees in Cameroon agreed in June to facilitate registration, transportation and information provision to ensure safe and dignified return of civilians forced from their homes by violence.
Incidents of refoulement continue to be reported despite an agreement on voluntary refugee returns. UNHCR has repeatedly condemned the incidents and called for the respect of human rights and humanitarian law.
Food insecurity remains high across the conflict-hit region. Some 5 million people are food insecure.
Displaced communities in Cameroon depend on markets for food, have been forced to cut the number of meals and changed eating habits to cope with scarcity, analysis by Famine Early Warning System Networks (FEWSNET) showed. Parts of Chad and Niger have been hit by drought that has affected four other Sahel countries following poor rains in the 2017 season. Due to an early onset of the lean season, affected families depend on markets for food, whose prices have increased.
Household economies and food stocks have been depressed.
The conflict has deprived many families of livelihood as they cannot farm, fish or trade. In Niger’s Diffa region,
FEWSNET project that food insecurity at crisis level is likely to persist until January 2019. In north-eastern Nigeria, most of the violence-affected populations depend on humanitarian assistance for survival. Those cut off from assistance face the elevated emergency phase of food insecurity.