Nigeria: Humanitarian Response Plan (January - December 2018)



The humanitarian crisis in north-east Nigeria continues as hostilities between Nigerian security forces and non-state armed groups enter their ninth year. Civilians still bear the brunt of the conflict that has resulted in widespread displacement, lack of protection, destroyed infrastructure and collapsed basic services. The food and nutrition crisis is of massive proportions. An estimated 7.7 million people in the three most affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe now depend on humanitarian assistance for their survival.

In 2016 and 2017, in close cooperation with the Government of Nigeria, the humanitarian community provided life-saving assistance and helped stabilise living conditions for millions of people. Mortality and morbidity were reduced and a further spillover effect prevented. In 2017, the response was scaled up and, as of October, had reached 5.6 million people. Some major successes were achieved, including a decrease in the number of food insecure people from 5.1 million to 3.9 million1, the rapid containment of the cholera outbreak through the innovative use of an oral cholera vaccine, improved agricultural production through assistance to 1.3 million farmers and access to a higher number of affected people. These results can be attributed to strong coordination, extensive engagement and generous funding. The Government of Nigeria succeeded in opening new areas in mid-2017 that enabled the humanitarian community to provide much-needed life-saving assistance.

Despite these achievements, many challenges remain as the conflict and population movements continue. Prior to the crisis, the region was already mired by chronic development challenges. Humanitarian assistance has prevented people from slipping below emergency thresholds, but it has not addressed underlying vulnerabilities. In the absence of a political solution, the crisis will likely continue into 2018. While a robust humanitarian response will be essential – especially in hardesthit Borno State – the protracted nature of the crisis creates new needs which require longer-term assistance. For the 1.6 million who are displaced from their homes, and the communities that host them, we need to find durable solutions. This requires longer planning horizons, more strategic interventions and flexible, longer-term funding.

The 2018 HRP is, therefore, underpinned by a multi-year strategy representing a paradigm shift as well as a commitment by the international humanitarian community to align with the Government’s Economic and Recovery and Growth Plan (2017-2020), the Buhari Plan and the United Nations Sustainable Development Partnership Framework (2018-2022). It is a step towards strengthening the nexus between humanitarian, development and peace interventions, in line with the New Way of Working and commitments made at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016. Partners will work together towards collective outcomes through joint analysis, planning and programming, and a coordinated platform for the delivery of humanitarian and development assistance.

The provision of life-saving emergency assistance to the most vulnerable remains our immediate priority. We will also scale up protection and resilience-based activities, and ensure better quality of our interventions. Capacitybuilding for local partners and Government counterparts will be prioritised across the response to strengthen national response mechanisms and ensure sustainability. In doing so, humanitarian partners will require $1.05 billion to reach 6.1 million people with humanitarian assistance.

In 2017, donors funded the appeal very generously: as of 31 December, we had received 70.5 per cent of the requested amount, which has enabled us to achieve tangible results. While we are aware that other large-scale crises also require donor support, it is essential to continue this positive momentum and build on the results attained. Should we fail to meet our targets, it could undermine the gains made to date.

I therefore call on your continuous support to the people in north-east Nigeria. Let’s work together to not only save lives today but also towards restoring stability to the region, ending the crisis and saving lives tomorrow.

Edward Kallon
United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria



Provide life-saving emergency assistance to the most vulnerable people in conflict-affected areas ensuring that assistance is timely and appropriate and meets relevant technical standards.


Ensure that all assistance promotes the protection, safety and dignity of affected people, and is provided equitably to women, girls, men and boys.


Foster resilience and early recovery, and strengthen the humanitarian development nexus by working towards collective outcomes.


Now entering its ninth year, the crisis in north-east Nigeria has created vulnerabilities and humanitarian concerns. An estimated 7.7 million men, women, boys and girls are in acute need of protection and assistance. While the humanitarian community has provided life-saving assistance to over 5.6 million affected people in 2017 and helped stabilise living conditions for millions of people, reducing mortality and morbidity, significant humanitarian needs still remain.

Evolution of the crisis

Clashes between the Nigerian military and non-state armed groups (NSAGs) escalated into conflict in May 2013, with authorities declaring a state of emergency in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states. Since then, the region has experienced a massive destruction of infrastructure, a collapse of livelihoods, widespread displacement and brutal attacks on the civilian population.

More than half of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Nigeria's north-east fled their homes in 2014 and 2015, after NSAGs seized control of a territory of more than 30,000 square kilometres, committing grave human rights abuses against the local populations they encountered. A government-led military campaign, which was also associated with protection concerns, subsequently allowed the Government to regain control of the territory. On one hand, the campaign enabled large numbers of people to move to population centres to receive humanitarian assistance, but on the other hand, it limited the supply of food and goods to civilians remaining in hard-to-reach areas. These people who have stayed in the hard-to-reach areas are cut-off from basic services and international humanitarian assistance.

Threats of attacks by armed groups and military restrictions related to the state of emergency – particularly restrictions on freedom of movement – continue to have negative impact on trade, livelihoods and markets, leaving a substantial proportion of the civilian population dependent on humanitarian assistance. Since the start of the conflict, more than 20,000 people have been killed, more than 4,000 people abducted and, in November 2017, 1.6 million people remained displaced.

Borno State clearly remains the epicentre of the humanitarian crisis, with dozens of conflict incidents reported each month, while Yobe and Adamawa states report far fewer incidents. Direct violence against civilians, including the use of improvised explosive devices (often carried by human beings, including women or children), is observed in Borno almost on a weekly basis. About 9 out of 10 displaced persons come from Borno and the State also hosts the vast majority (78 per cent) of IDPs.

Population movements

Today’s humanitarian needs should be understood within the context of a protracted displacement situation, characterised by a lower level of hostilities than in preceding years but an increase in asymmetric warfare. With the crisis in its ninth year, thousands of people remain on the move each month (both displaced and returnees). More than half of IDPs are entering their third year away from home and, while 77 per cent have expressed a desire to go back if conditions were conducive, 86 per cent of them say that the conditions for their safe and dignified return are not yet in place.

The majority – or 6 out of 10 – displaced families live in host communities, while the remainder are staying in formal or informal camps. Secondary displacement is common, with more than 70 per cent of IDPs reporting that they have moved twice or more since they first left home.

However, a significant number of people have begun to return home. The Government of Nigeria and IOM-led Displacement Tracking Matrix have recorded 1.3 million returnees since 2014, many of whom are returning to locations where infrastructure is still damaged or destroyed and services are not yet restored. The majority (56 per cent) of those returning are women, including single heads of households. Family members of the displaced are often separated during the return, with younger children remaining behind in the displacement location until those who have returned have been able to assess the security situation and ability to access food (in the form of humanitarian assistance or opportunities for farming) in areas of return.

In addition to those who have returned, it should be noted that almost one in four IDPs have indicated that they intend to locally integrate into their current place of displacement, which could potentially pose additional development challenges in urban centres.

The March 2017 signing and subsequent operationalisation of the Tripartite Agreement between the Government of Nigeria, Government of Cameroon and Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have facilitated further advocacy, stalling instances of forced returns of Nigerian refugees. Voluntary repatriations under the Tripartite Agreement are planned to take place in 2018 through a phased approach to areas in which return is considered to be safe.


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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