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May 20, 2020

Humanitarian Crisis: the IDPs

By Dr Baba J Adamu

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The state of the humanitarian crisis in Nigeria has become alarming. In the last 10 years, has been in the throes of insurgency in the North, especially in Borno, Adamawa, Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Yobe, Kano and the Kaduna States. This insurgency has created a lot of social dislocation and millions of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). According to an August 2019 report from Médecins Sans Frontières, (Doctors without Borders, “It is estimated that about 35,000 people have been killed since 2009, 1.8 million people are internally displaced, and 7.1 million people require humanitarian assistance across the north-eastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. Around 230,000 people have fled to the neighbouring countries of Niger, Chad and Cameroon”.

 

According to the UN, the crisis in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states alone has created severe humanitarian needs. The ongoing conflict between non-state armed groups and government forces has created high levels of displacement and food insecurity and has exacerbated protection risks for civilians. Risks are compounded by climate-related shocks and disease outbreaks. Violence against women and girls is widespread, particularly denial of resources and access to services, forced and child marriage, and physical and psychological violence. Faced with a lack of livelihood opportunities, some women are forced to resort to survival sex to meet their basic needs. A considerable number of women and girls have been abducted by armed actors and are subjected to sexual violence and forced marriage. UNFPA is providing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and gender-based violence services (GBV) and information to affected people, including through its mobile outreach teams, and continues its strong presence in the GBV sub-cluster and the SRH/Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) working group. As reported by the United Statess Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), the number of people in need of urgent assistance in north-east Nigeria rose from 7.9 million at the beginning of 2020 to 10.6 million since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Towards rebuilding the North East, President Muhammadu Buhari encouraged the World Bank in partnership with the European Union and the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, philanthropists and other foreign organizations to help and provide solutions to the plight of millions of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) as well as coordinate humanitarian affairs and social development in the country; rebuild the North East to be more committed to erecting structures and physical presence in those areas to aid the smooth and effective returning of displaced persons to their settlements. Rather than giving out cash and other monetary gifts, which over time has been reported that the displaced persons and supposed beneficiaries of humanitarian crisis and disaster issues often find it difficult to receive these aids and donations from individuals and organizations because of some atrocities and corruption committed by those responsible for the management of those resources such as food, water and clothing.

 

According to UNICEF, this conflict in north-eastern Nigeria has continued to devastate the lives of civilians, resulting in a humanitarian crisis affecting 7.7 million women, men and children who are all in acute need of help and protection. It reports that since the start of the conflict in 2009, more than 20,000 people have been killed, more than 4,000 people abducted and 1.7 million remain displaced, mostly in Borno State. According to UNHCR, there are over 2.7 million internally displaced persons in North-Eastern Nigeria, over 684,000 IDPs in Cameroon, Chad and Niger, and 294000 refugees in the four countries. Civilians are the major victims of the conflict, as many have been displaced. Thousands of women and girls have been abducted, and have been made to face different forms of violence. There has also been a rise in the number of underage terrorists, as many have been recruited by these armed groups to carry person-borne improvised explosive devices (PBIEDs.

 

According to UNOCHA, currently, 1.9 million people are still internally displaced, some living in dire conditions. Over 80 percent of them are in Borno State – the epicentre of the crisis, as four out of five internally displaced people, are women and children, and one in four are under the age of five. Also, it reports that an estimated number of up to 1.2 million people remain inaccessible to humanitarian actors, 81 percent of whom are in Borno State. As mentioned earlier, banditry violence has also been on the increase in Nigeria, as it has affected people living in such states as Zamfara, Kaduna, Niger, Sokoto, Kebbi, and the Katsina States in the North-West. According to the Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS), about 21 million of those living in these states have been exposed to insecurity from the activities of these bandits. These activities which include cattle rustling, kidnapping, and sexual violence, have affected about 35 of the 92 local government areas in the four states. As of March 2020, ACAPS reported that about 210,000 persons have been internally displaced, and over 35000 have sought refuge in neighbouring countries such as Niger.

 

The government has continued to rally round for support from International agencies in the fight against terrorism, as it tries to manage the Boko Haram Terrorists in the North East, the rising Banditry violence in the North East, as well as the Herdsmen-Farmer Clashes in the North Central, South West, and South East. It has also tried to curb Youth restiveness/Niger Delta Militants attacks in the South-South, as well as the rising secessionist movements in the South East. Not only this, with the fight against corruption by public officials, the government has been blamed for non-accountability of recovered funds and showing bias in the appropriation of funds, fight against corruption, and appointment of public officials. Things are sometimes easy to destroy than to rebuild, this is the current situation of the North East in Nigeria. Rebuilding the North East remains a huge project to be completed but it is possible with the efforts of the government, the people and international organizations committed to making this happen. The creation of a ministry to take care of humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development have thus made the pathway for the rebuilding of the North-East much more visible as there would be more accountability and responsibility for actors and non-actors towards humanitarian issues in Nigeria.

 

“According to UN High Commission for Refugee (UNHCR), over 3.4 million people have been displaced, including over 2.7 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in North-eastern Nigeria, over 684,000 IDPs in Cameroon, Chad and Niger and 294,000 refugees in the four countries. “According to Amnesty International, at least 1,126 people in the North of the country have been killed between January and August 2020. The organization interviewed civilians in Kaduna, Katsina, Niger, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba and Zamfara states, who said they live in fear of attacks and abductions as insecurity escalates in rural areas. “The insecurity in the Northern part of Nigeria is also one of the leading causes of food insecurity, affecting food and agriculture in Nigeria and Africa. It has also affected the movement, commerce, education and other social lives of Nigerians leading to an increase in poverty. “This administration promised to tackle insecurity in Nigeria among other things”. The government should protect its population. The rising death toll in Northern Nigeria shows just how badly the authorities are failing in this responsibility. “The President should visit villages, communities and major IDP camps affected by insecurity to condole with the victims and provide transparent humanitarian relief to IDPs across the North. The administration should swiftly bring an end to the Boko Haram insurgency. “The administration should take massive action to tackle bandits and kidnappers across the country using modern technology, provide stationed securities along Abuja-Kaduna highway,” said an activist Garba Idris. The government should also immediately reform the Nigeria Police Force. “We also want the government to immediately bring an end to the ASUU strike and change the academic curriculum to reflect modern-day realities, he added.

 

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