Out of Sight: Landmines and the Crisis in Northeast Nigeria

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This report is based on independent field research conducted in Nigeria by Sebastian Kasack, supported by Mohammed Bandora, Avishek Banskota, Alasdair Burton and Younes Al-Qaryouti. It also draws on data from MAG’s field operations as well as interviews and a range of public reports. The research was part of a project supported by UNICEF, with funding from the German Federal Foreign Office. The views expressed in this report and its findings do not necessarily reflect those of UNICEF or Germany. This report can be used as long as MAG and the publication are referenced.

Northeast Nigeria is facing a landmine crisis as a result of the conflict involving Boko Haram. This is exacerbating a protracted conflict and humanitarian emergency in the region. An estimated 7.7 million people remain in need of humanitarian assistance in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states. Over half of them are children.

MAG research showed 439 casualties from 144 accidents involving landmines and unexploded bombs between January 2016 and March 2018.
Casualty figures reached 19 people per month in 2017, with thirty per cent of civilians killed known to be children. Averaging one person killed or injured in the region every 1.5 days, Nigeria now has one of the ten highest casualty rates in the world.

Nigeria is the first state in Africa to encounter new use of locally-manufactured landmines on this scale. It comes after the international community faced a new landmine emergency in the Middle East in areas retaken from Daesh.
This brief outlines the problem and the response so far. This includes life-saving risk education delivered by MAG and other humanitarian organisations to over 680,000.

Preventing further loss of lives and limbs will depend on close alignment between mine action and broader humanitarian planning. Greater effort will also be required to ensure that the needs of survivors are met. None of this will happen if Nigeria’s new landmine crisis remains out of sight.