Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons on his mission to Nigeria (A/HRC/35/27/Add.1)

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Human Rights Council
Thirty-fifth session
6-23 June 2017
Agenda item 3 Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development

Note by the Secretariat

The Secretariat has the honour to transmit to the Human Rights Council the report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Chaloka Beyani, on his mission to Nigeria from 23 to 26 August 2016.

The insurgency by Jama’atu Ahlus-Sunna Lidda’Awati Wal Jihad (Boko Haram) in north-east Nigeria and the Government’s counter-insurgency operations have killed thousands of civilians and led to the internal displacement of over 2 million people, the vast majority in Borno State. The terror campaign by Boko Haram has led to the utter destruction of towns and villages and the homes and livelihoods of affected populations. As areas have been recovered following offensives by Nigerian security forces and the Multinational Joint Task Force, the full extent of the human suffering and humanitarian crisis has been revealed, with severe levels of malnutrition and food insecurity threatening the lives of tens of thousands, particularly children. Although the Nigerian security forces have made significant gains, Boko Haram remains a menacing presence causing further displacement, hampering safe returns and severely impeding humanitarian access.

In December 2016, the situation in the north-east was described by the United Nations as the largest humanitarian crisis in Africa. Urgent action is required to save lives in the short-term emergency phase, and to begin the difficult process of recovery. Ensuring access by humanitarian partners and that urgent food, shelter, medical care, water and sanitation and other essential services reach internally displaced persons and others in need without delay must be the highest priority. Equally, ensuring the protection of vulnerable internally displaced persons, many traumatized by violence, fear, starvation and displacement, must be a paramount concern. Evidence of widespread human rights violations in the north-east by non-State armed groups and State actors means that the situation must also be recognized as a human rights crisis.

Camps for internally displaced persons have been targeted by Boko Haram, and many such persons have been killed as a result of military operations. Internally displaced persons are highly vulnerable and a high percentage of them are women and children. Urgent action is needed to address an epidemic of exploitation and abuse. Camps for internally displaced persons must be places of safety, yet sexual exploitation and sexual violence, including demands for transactional sex to access food and non-food items are commonplace. The risks of human rights violations have been exacerbated by a lack of adequate assistance to internally displaced persons in host communities and camps. The whereabouts of thousands of displaced men and boys remains unclear. Thousands have been killed by Boko Haram or in the context of the counter-insurgency. Many others are detained and must be treated according to international standards. Initiatives to identify the missing and dead should be strengthened.