2017 IN REVIEW
The humanitarian crisis in Nigeria’s north-east remains one of the most severe in the world today. In 2017, there were 8.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in the worst conflict-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. The crisis is considered a protection crisis first and foremost, that is closely linked to food scarcity and insecurity and high levels of need for basic life-saving assistance and services. Civilians continue to bear the brunt of a conflict that has led to widespread forced displacement and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.
In March 2017, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2349, strongly condemning all terrorist attacks, violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses by Boko Haram and ISIL, and urged all parties to the conflict to ensure respect for and protection of humanitarian personnel, facilities, and their means of transport and equipment, and to facilitate safe, timely and unhindered access for humanitarian oganisations to deliver life-saving aid to affected people.
Protection of civilians was a key priority for humanitarians in 2017. Women, men and children faced grave human rights violations and sexual and gender-based violence, including rape. Since the start of the conflict in 2009, over 20,000 people have been killed, thousands of women and girls abducted and, in 2017, over 110 children were used as so-called “suicide” bombers. Toward the latter half of 2017, a surge in attacks by non-state armed groups claimed dozens of lives and injured countless others.
Internal displacement and returns
In 2017, more than 1.6 million people were internally displaced in the three worst crisis-affected states – with 80 per cent of internally displaced persons (IDPs) located in Borno State, the epicentre of the crisis. Over half live outside of IDP camps in local communities. Freedom of movement of all IDPs, including refugee returnees, was limited by continued security threats in areas such as Banki, Pulka, Bama, Gwoza, Ngala and Damasak. Nonetheless, 1.3 million people returned home in 2017, indicating that conditions in some locations had improved. Meanwhile, an estimated 930,000 people remain in hard-to-reach areas and humanitarian actors were not able to assess their situation, or to provide them with aid.
Food insecurity and malnutrition
By the end of the year, the risk of famine had been averted in north-east Nigeria in locations where humanitarians had access. The number of people estimated to be facing food insecurity reduced from 5.2 million during June to August 2017 to 2.6 million during October to December 2017³. This improvement was due to (i) improved security conditions that allowed for farming activities in locations that were previously not safe and an upturn in market and trade activity; (ii) delivery of food and livelihood support to almost 3 million people every month (including 2 million per month with just food assistance) since the start of the year; and (iii) favourable climatic conditions for farming.
An estimated 450,000 children under the age of five suffered from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) across Borno, Adamawa and Yobe in 2017. SAM kits were provided to over 30 stabilisation centres to treat more than 7,000 children suffering from SAM with medical complications, and over 150 health professionals from the Health Ministry and NGOs were trained on in-patient management of SAM. The integration of the provision of safe drinking water, adequate sanitation services and safer food and hygiene practices into nutrition activities were required to improve the health of people in need and help combat malnutrition.
Disease outbreaks, including malaria and cholera
A highly vulnerable population, consisting largely of children (58 per cent), continued to be at high risk of disease outbreaks since routine vaccinations, e.g., polio and measles, had been interrupted for many years, . Two thirds of the health facilities in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states were damaged by the conflict. The continuous influx of returnees and overcrowding of camps continued to increase the risk of outbreaks. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that more than half of recorded deaths in Borno State were due to malaria, more than all other causes of death combined.
Finally, the cholera outbreak that was declared in mid-August 2017 in Borno State, was brought under control following a solid collaboration between health partners and water, sanitation and hygiene partners, and a cholera vaccination campaign in the most at-risk areas of Borno State which reached more than 900,000 people. By the time the epidemic was declared over in December 2017, there had been over 5,300 recorded cases and 61 deaths.
Access and security
The humanitarian access and security situation in the northeast remains challenging for humanitarian partners and has had significant implications on relief operations in 2017.
The north-east of Nigeria, especially Borno State, has experienced a significant increase in military operations in the second half of the year which have resulted in major civilian displacement, access restrictions along main routes and security incidents in previously secure areas.
The Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) estimates that around 85 per cent of the target population (5.2 million people) can be reached with aid while an estimated 930,000 people remain in areas that are hard to reach for UN agencies and international NGOs. In Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states, three local government areas (LGAs) are currently completely inaccessible for UN and international NGO humanitarian services, whereas 26 are partially accessible and 37 are fully accessible.
All of the three inaccessible and the majority of the partially accessible (19) LGAs are located in Borno State. Due to the lack of access of humanitarian partners to these areas, the identification of potential needs as well as independent context and security assessments have largely not been possible.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.