CURBING THE TREND IN AFRICA’S MOST ACUTE CRISIS
The Lake Chad Basin is grappling with a complex humanitarian emergency affecting some 17 million people across north-eastern Nigeria, Cameroon’s Far North, western Chad and south-east Niger. The combined impact of deepening insecurity, rapid population growth and severe vulnerability resulting from the effects of climate change, environmental degradation, poverty and underinvestment in social services is translating into record numbers of people in need of emergency relief. More than 2.3 million people have fled their homes. Protection concerns highlighted by the Governments of Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger in the Abuja Action Statement of June 2016 remain an ongoing challenge. Violence and insecurity have disrupted trade and markets. Vital infrastructure such as health centres, schools, water pipelines, bridges and roads have been destroyed. Famers are unable to attend to their fields, having missed harvests for three consecutive seasons. Eleven million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Across the region almost a third of the population is struck by food insecurity. Malnutrition rates and related mortality are critically high. Millions of people have limited or no access to basic services such as water, healthcare or education. Humanitarian actors have significantly increased their response capacity in 2016. But with constantly growing needs, especially in northeastern Nigeria, further operational scale-up and financial resources are urgently required to ensure adequate response. In 2017, UN agencies and NGOs aim to reach 8.2 million with assistance in the four countries.
Ongoing and multiple displacements
Boko Haram’s attacks and military counter-offensives have displaced 2.3 million people. Many of them have had to flee several times. The majority of the displaced are sheltered by communities who themselves count among the world’s most vulnerable. In north-eastern Nigeria alone, 1.8 million people are internally displaced, more than half of them are children. Some 200,000 people have fled across borders and live as refugees in the neighbouring countries. While some security has been restored in Nigeria’s Adamawa, Yobe, and parts of Borno states in the course of 2016, recent months have seen a new upsurge in attacks by Boko Haram across the four countries.
Civilian victims of violence
Persistent violence against civilians and insecurity continue to cause serious protection risks and rights violations. Women and girls kidnapped by Boko Haram have been subjected to physical and psychological abuse, forced marriage, sexual slavery or forced labour. Boys have been forcibly enrolled as combatants and young girls used as suicide bombers. Boko Haram has targeted IDP and refugee hosting areas, health facilities and schools, forcing health care workers and teachers to flee from where they are most needed. The increasing number of attacks and arrival of displaced children have placed an additional burden on already weak health and education systems. Safe spaces for women and children, access to essential services and psychological support must be central to the humanitarian response.
Food and nutrition emergency
Across the Lake Chad Basin, some 7 million people struggling with food insecurity need assistance. In north-east Nigeria alone, more than 1.8 million are food insecure at emergency levels. In Borno state, 55,000 people are facing famine-like conditions, and the figure is likely to double in the coming months. In all the four conflict-hit Lake Chad Basin countries, food security is expected to deteriorate until at least mid-2017. This will particularly affect vulnerable displaced populations and host communities. Malnutrition and related mortality are also critically high. In most of the conflict-affected areas, malnutrition rates have surpassed the emergency threshold. Throughout the region, more than half a million children are severely acutely malnourished, of whom 75,000 could die if not urgently assisted.
Saving lives, rebuild livelihoods
While the humanitarian strategy focuses on addressing immediate needs through life-saving assistance, humanitarian actors call for concerted engagement of political, development and security actors to help stabilize the region and create conditions for people to survive and prosper.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.