Yunusari local government area (LGA) is located in the north-eastern Nigerian state of Yobe, bordering Niger. Insurgent attacks and violence have been widespread in many parts of Yunusari, particularly Kanama town, which has a history of heightened armed opposition group (AOG) attacks between 2003 and 2009. By 2015, Yunusari was one of seven LGAs in Yobe that were inaccessible to humanitarian actors and all United Nations (UN) activities in Yunusari LGA were suspended due to insecurity.
As of the first quarter of 2020, displacement trends in Yobe started to change, with the state seeing a progressively larger proportion of internally displaced persons (IDPs) originating from within Yobe. Based on reports by International Office for Migration (IOM) field staff in Yobe and Yobe State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), IDPs from Yobe State mainly originated from Yunusari, Gujba, Tarmua and Geidam LGAs.
While contemporary reports highlight increasing insecurity and displacement, little is known about the situation of IDPs and returnees in Yunusari LGA. In response to attacks on Kanama and Geidam town in April and May 2021, humanitarian partners launched an assessment on the state of services for those planning to return. However, considerable gaps in information remain at the time of writing, especially regarding the displacement of people within Yunusari LGA itself, as well as regarding the state of services in Yunusari town. According to IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), as of March 2022, there are still 1,203 IDPs in Yunusari ward within which Yunusari town is located and 265 in Mairari ward, within which Kanama town is located.
To address some of these persisting information gaps related to IDPs and returnees, REACH launched a Rapid Overview of Areas of Return (ROAR) assessment at the end of March 2022, to better understand needs, current displacement patterns, and returns in these areas. The ROAR assessment looks at the motivations behind return, along with the current context related to protection issues, livelihoods, and the provision of basic services in areas of Yunusari that are experiencing returns.
Displacement and Return
• IDP key informant reports allude to the existence of displacementcausing insecurity over a decade in various settlements within the Yunusari LGA. The most recently displaced IDP interviewed reported having been displaced on the 3rd of May 2022, reportedly in response to an AOG attack near Kanama town.
• Multiple displacements, including redisplacements after attempts to return, were reported by several KIs.
• Considerations about work and the presence of income sources, and reclaiming belongings and assets like farmland or livestock left behind in areas of origin (AoO), emerged as the main drivers of return, followed by the perceived stabilisation of the security situation.
• Among KIs that were in displacement at the time of interview (IDP KIs), the main reasons given for not returning were a perceived absence of peace in their AoO and/or relative safety in their area of displacement and a perceived lack of job opportunities in their AoO.
• According to IDP KIs, most IDPs in their communities have a definite intention to return.
• Three of five returnee KIs estimated that almost everyone in Yunusari town lost some property.
• Interviewed subject-matter experts (SMEs) estimated that about 30% to 65% of Yunusari town residents had their property looted or destroyed when they were displaced.
• While all returnee KIs reported feeling safe in their AoO at the time of the interview, six out of the seven interviewed reported perceiving that it had been safer in Yunusari town before the crisis compared to now. Only one returnee KI reported feeling safer now compared to prior to their displacement, attributing their feeling of safety to the regular visits conducted by authorities in charge of security.
• The IDP KI recently displaced from Kanama town reported that they never felt safe in their community due to an ever-present fear of AOG attacks, citing the recent attack that occurred shortly before the interview that caused them to become re-displaced after they had returned.
• While farming and livestock rearing were reported to be popular livelihood activities, the livelihoods SME reported a perception that these activities are no longer sufficient to earn an income, and are only practised for subsistence.
• In addition, the livelihoods SME reported believing that the destruction of farms and cattle during various violent incidents has resulted in relatively small yields of farm produce and smaller herds in the area.
• The community representative KI estimated that about 60% of the population in Yunusari town has no source of income.
Access to basic services
• According to the health SME, the healthcare system in Yunusari town has only one doctor who is hired contractually and does not work on weekends. Additionally, they report, none of the healthcare facilities in the town provide emergency services nor do they have access to ambulances or transport vehicles to facilitate transfer to nearby hospitals.
• The IDP KI displaced from Kanama town reported that a significant part of one of the primary healthcare centres was burnt down by AOGs. Most of the health staff reportedly left the facility during the attack and only a few continue to come to attend to patients from the functional section of the centre.
• Four of the five interviewed returnees reported that violent incidents that occurred during times of heightened insecurity have left some water points in a state of damage and disrepair.
• KIs commonly reported perceiving a decline in the presence of teachers in schools since the crisis intensified.
• KIs reported that classes are generally grouped together to compensate either for the lack of teachers or the lack of classes for students to sit in.