Nigeria

Northeast Nigeria: Flash Update #1 - Influx of new arrivals into Bama Town from surrounding areas, Bama Town, Bama LGA (6 September 2021)

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HIGHLIGHTS

• Approximately 4,000 people arrived at the GSSS IDP camp in Bama town between May and August 2021; of which an estimated 500 people arrived on 31 August alone, exacerbating an already dire shortage of shelters and congestion in the IDP camp. The general condition of children arriving is particularly concerning, with many showing signs of acute malnutrition.

• The frequency of food distributions has steadily deteriorated, and distribution duration also extended from 30 days to 42 days. The delay in distribution, reduction in food rations, and limited availability of food in the market has left many families unable to meet food needs resulting in the spike of illnesses and acute malnutrition especially among children. The lack of food is causing many women - who had previously come out of unreached/inaccessible locations- to return to these high-risk areas, leaving their children behind.

• In a desperate effort to find some income, some 177 individuals from the GSSS camp reportedly ventured out of Bama on 1 September to fetch firewood in neighbouring Sabasawa village where they were attacked by non-state armed group (NSAGs) operatives. On 2 September, 11 people returned, 48 people were reported to have been killed, and 118 are still unaccounted for, according to the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA).

• Women are disproportionately affected in and out of camps. The majority of people coming out of high-risk/unreached locations are women and children – many are forced to live out in the open due to lack of assistance including food and shelters. Conditions in camps have been stretched by the ongoing rainy season (with shelters and facilities damaged by flooding and windstorm) and influx of new arrivals. Facilities in the camps are barely able to provide for basic needs such as adequate healthcare, food and nutrition and water and sanitation. The lack of access to services is leading to women and children adopting negative coping mechanisms. Adequate shelter is also lacking. These conditions are not of only a protection concern but is also a serious public health concern.

• Recent closure and relocation of IDPs from the Farm Center camp in Maiduguri, the state capital, is further aggravating the influx of populations into the Bama GSSS camp where resources and facilities have been stretched beyond capacity. On 4 September alone, some 180HHs (1,000 people) among IDPs who left the Farm Centre camp arrived Bama town and this trend will likely continue over the coming weeks and months as the Government continues to close camps across the capital (including an additional 300 HH from Maiduguri in the coming days). An emergency meeting was held on Sunday 5 Sept between the military, LGA representatives and humanitarian partners to tackle the issue of decongestion.

Situation Overview

Bama GSSS IDP camp is witnessing a sharp increase of new IDP arrivals due to people coming out of surrounding areas, as well as the ongoing surrender of members of the NSAGs. Over 4,000 people arrived between May and August, of which 2,000 in the last week of August. The arrivals, mostly women, children, and the elderly, continue to arrive daily originating mostly from Sambisa forest, Dara Jamal, and five other locations surrounding Bama town beyond the reach of international humanitarian actors.

Food

Families are receiving support through cash vouchers (NGN36,000 equivalent to approx. USD 87.00) and in-kind assistance. In August, WFP/Intersos assisted 11,994 HHs through cash vouchers and 9,712 HHs with general food distribution for both GSSS Camp and the host community. Vendors supplying food items to cash vouchers beneficiaries have reported an increase in food prices, while partners distributing food have been faced with a shortage of beans and vegetable oil. The influx of IDPs and returnees into the town has caused food shortages in the market. The new arrivals have been in the camp for three weeks without food as a result of the slow registration process. There are also others who arrived five months ago who are also yet to access services including food due to registration-related challenges.

The overall shortage of food is causing hunger and children to fall ill – cases of malnutrition are on increase.
Women reported working on farms owned by the host community members and the military for a meagre amount ranging from NGN200-250, (less than USD1) for 7 hours without drinking water and are often not paid for this work. It was reported that some women have been forced into survival/transactional sex for about NGN 200 (as a means to buy food).

Protection

Women reported challenges with access to sources of cooking fuel, such as firewood. Women and children venturing outside Bama to collect firewood are exposed to the risk of being killed, abducted, or raped. Despite the surrender of members of NSAGs and their families, on 1 September NSAGs attacked IDPs about three kilometers from the IDP camp and abducted up to sixteen women. The body of a male was recovered at the scene of the attack. In a separate incident, SEMA reported 177 individuals went to Sabsawa village in search of firewood were rounded up by NSAGs. 11 people returned, 48 corpses were found, and the remaining 118 are still unaccounted for. Following the attacks, the military has restricted movement in the area.

In addition to food and shelter, it is reported that no dignity kits and NFIs have been made available for new arrivals.
Women also reported shortages of water in camps, leading to poor hygiene practices, open defecation and protection risks particularly for women and girls. Latrines are in bad conditions, with no locks and lights, posing a protection risk.

Shelter and camp decongestion

According to UNHCR, as of 3 September, 366 households (about 2,000 IDPs and returnees) of the recent arrivals have no shelters and are sleeping outside in the open – exposed to the vagaries of the inclement weather. They are also exposed to protection risks, including gender-based violence. Data from IOM indicate that 201 households (550 people) are residing in communal shelters at the reception centre, 46 households (142 people) are living in transit sheds while 483 households (1,588 people) share shelters with relatives in the camp. As recent as July 2021, up to 800 damaged shelters were repaired and two temporary sheds were constructed, but more is needed. With the ongoing military operations against the NSAGs and continued security improvements in Bama town, new arrivals to the camp are now a regular occurrence.

Actions taken: To decongest the current camp, UNHCR is mobilizing support to establish a new camp extension on land already identified and agreed upon by the military and SEMA. UNHCR will construct 400 units of new emergency shelter in the new property, while in the existing camp, replace 300 emergency shelters. Shelter and NFI kits targeting at least 350 households have also been distributed to repair damaged houses.

Rainy season emergency response

As the rainy season arrived, flash floods in July and August compounded the dire shelter situation in the camp. Heavy rainfall on 8 August 2021 damaged 933 emergency shelters, forcing affected camp residents to sleep in the open together with the new arrivals whilst their shelters were being repaired.

Gaps and challenges

• Suitable sites have been identified by IOM, UNHCR and SEMA, however approval of land has not been secured by the LGA chairman to decongest the current camp needs.

• Reproductive health services in all the primary healthcare facilities and advance obstetric services at the General hospital is urgently needed for women.

Background

The GSSS IDP camp was established in November 2017 to host 25,000 people. However, the camp is currently overcongested, hosting over 43,901 people (14,556 households) – 6,914 men, 10,548 women, 12,801 boys and 13,113 girls. 83 per cent of the camp population are children and women. More than 75 per cent of the IDPs registered in the camp are from unreached villages within Bama LGA – namely Tasawa, Bulamari, Kacelure, Kotembe, Landini, Kalifate, Nduguno, Dipchari, Jere, Dar-Jama. Others come from Soye and Minawawo in Cameroon. The majority of the IDPs speak Kanuri, Shuwa, Gamargu, Mandara and Wula.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.