Now in its ninth year, the humanitarian crisis in north-east Nigeria remains one of the most severe in the world: 1.6 million persons are internally displaced, human rights violations continue to be reported daily, and the food security and nutrition situation remains extremely concerning as conflict continues to limit the amount of land under cultivation and as the lean season (May through September) is about to kick off. The new Cadre Harmonisé analysis – which provides an updated understanding of the food security and nutrition situation – was issued, revealing that the number of people estimated to be facing critical and crisis food and nutrition insecurity levels (IPC 3 and 4) in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe stands at 2.3 million for March-May and up to 3 million projected for June-August.
In March, the operational environment deteriorated sharply with the killing of three aid workers in Rann, in Kala/Balge local government area (LGA) in Borno State, during an attack by non-state armed groups (NSAGs) against Nigerian armed forces.
Three female paramedical aid workers were also abducted during the attack and remain unaccounted for. This attack, which took place on 1 March, raised serious concerns regarding the preservation and expansion of the current humanitarian space and the dangers faced by aid workers as they attempt to access vulnerable persons in hard-to-reach areas. Following the attack, all relocatable humanitarian workers were evacuated out of Rann for close to three weeks and little to no assistance was delivered to people in need during that time. Although life-saving activities were able to resume in a progressive manner towards the end of the month, much time was lost in preparing for the rainy season (June through September) in a town that tends to become unreachable by road for months on end due to flooding. The construction of a humanitarian hub, a common storage site and a helipad were delayed pending a new security assessment of the chosen location. As time before the rains start is running out, it is crucial that work on these three projects resume as soon as possible.
Large-scale population movements, caused largely by insecurity, continued with 21,807 new arrivals in March alone. This represents a sharp increase of 75 per cent compared to February and poses major humanitarian challenges as resources are often already overstretched in the locations in which these civilians arrive. With hostilities ongoing, these trends are likely to continue at least until the rainy season starts in May/June. On 24 March, the Government of Nigeria opened the MaiduguriBama-Banki road, in Borno State, to civilian traffic, triggering thousands of population movements along this axis. In addition, the Government has announced its intention to relocate tens of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Maiduguri to Bama where rehabilitation of public and private infrastructure is underway. The UN and its partners are calling for close coordination with the federal and state authorities to ensure that any returns and relocations are carried out following internationally recognised standards of dignity, safety and voluntariness. The UN and partners are also calling for the return of civilian authorities to all return areas and the rebuilding of infrastructure and municipal services.
The north-east is also grappling with two new cholera outbreaks: one in Borno State (in Kukawa LGA), which broke out on 13 February and stands at 646 cases with three associated deaths; and one in Yobe State (in Bade, Karasuwa, Yusufari and Bursari LGAs) which started on 28 March, and stands at 44 cases with seven deaths (with a worrisome case fatality rate of 6.4 per cent). A timely and coordinated response by health and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) partners has been put in place, including prevention measures, and the outbreaks are expected to be under control in the coming weeks. As the rainy season approaches, preparedness measures are being put in place to limit disease transmission.
Another challenge in March were the heavy winds which have caused repeated fire outbreaks in Borno State, destroying large numbers of shelters, food supplies and other critical items across camps in the state (in Mafa, Jere, Monguno and Kala/Balge LGAs). Although humanitarian organisations were able to respond rapidly with emergency shelter kits and distributions of other life-saving items, fires are creating major gaps in the affected locations. Fire sensitisation campaigns and other mitigation measures, such as fire stations in heavily congested camps, are ongoing or being rolled out.
Overall, the humanitarian response in north-east Nigeria is hampered by the lack of funding for the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP). Currently, most activities can only be implemented thanks to carry-over funding from 2017 (US$196 million) which will soon run out. For the response to be sustainable and to avoid interruption in life-saving services, it is crucial that additional funding be urgently received across all the sectors
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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