On 21 May 2019, the Nigerian military commenced a unilateral relocation of civilian populations from Sabon Gari, a border community in Damboa LGA of Borno State to the Government Secondary School (GSS) and Unity camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Damboa Town, located some 85 kilometers south-west of Maiduguri, the state capital, citing safety and security reasons.
Of the total 3,767 people relocated on 21 May, 1,427 were moved to the Unity Camp after a military screening while 2,330 were taken to an open space at the GSS camp after a similar screening by the military.
The relocation of civilians from Sabon Gari by the military continued on 22 May with the movement of 2,809 individuals in two batches, while an additional 1,134 people were moved on 23 May bringing the total number to 7,710 people so far moved. Due to limited space and shelters in the camps, most of the new arrivals have moved to neighboring host communities.
Sabon Gari community, home to over 9,000 people, is a border town linking Damboa LGA with Biu LGA and has witnessed an escalation of attacks and clashes between non-state armed groups (NSAGs) and government forces in recent weeks. The spate of attacks has led to a temporary closure of Damboa-Biu road and the Damboa weekly market by the military.
Humanitarian partners were not informed or involved in the relocation exercise, and it is not immediately clear whether the affected populations were engaged or informed before the exercise commenced.
The response and needs:
As of 23 May, humanitarian partners have registered 5,157 individuals (1,134 households) among the 7,710 new arrivals, after screening by military. Due to limited space and shelters, only about 1,427 of the populations are hosted in the camps: 710 (142 households) at the Unity Camp Phase 2 and 717 (156 households) in classrooms at the GSSS. Others, including 6,283 people, mostly women and children, are currently sleeping in the open without shelters and exposed to harsh weather conditions and protection risks.
Although partners commenced wet feeding for some of the new arrivals on 22 May, there is an urgent need to scale up to reach the increasing number of new populations who will also have to be included in the general food distribution (GFD) program upon completion of screening and registration.
Nutrition screening for children among the new arrivals commenced on 22 May, and there is a need for replenishment of ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) stock and expansion of the stabilization center to treat cases of malnutrition.
Provision of WASH services is hampered by the poor yield from water points, limiting partners’ ability to meet the additional 38 cubic meters of water required to support new arrivals at the Unity Camp.
While medical staff (including four doctors and three sexual and reproductive health staff) are available to render health services including outpatient services, antenatal care, immunization of children, and general screenings, there is need to replenish drug supplies and also expand the clinic in view of the influx which more than triples the pre-existing population of the camps.
Partners commenced psychosocial support and counseling services on 22 May, but a shortage of dignity kits and limited access to the new arrivals due to military restrictions on freedom of movement are major challenges.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.