Humanitarian Crises and Emergency Response
By Mukhtar Ya’u Madobi
The humanitarian crises in Nigeria have reached an alarming rate thereby leading to unprecedented emergencies in the sectors. Reports have indicated that, Nigeria has the third highest number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Africa. In 2020, it counted 2.7 million IDPs. Overall, Africa has the largest number of IDPs in the world. According to the International laws, the internally displaced persons are people who have been forced to leave their homes due to armed conflict, natural or human disasters or any other situation which can be defined as a violation of human rights. They are called refugees if they leave their natural state or borders.
Fueling this situation is the ongoing insurgency in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states in Northeast Nigeria which has created severe humanitarian needs. Conflict between non-state armed groups (Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists) and government forces has resulted in mass displacement, food insecurity and increased protection risks for civilians.
Recently, the National Security Adviser, retired Major General Babagana Monguno noted that the situation in the Sahel has never been grimmer, extremist violence continues to spread, thereby leading to growing number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and food insecurity is affecting more people than ever before. Thus, it continues undermining governance, rule of law, national cohesion and economic activities, destruction of infrastructure and human rights violations.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stated that since violent attacks of Boko Haram started to spill over Nigeria’s north-eastern frontier in 2014, Cameroon, Chad and Niger have been drawn into what has become a devastating regional conflict. To date, the Lake Chad Basin region is grappling with a complex humanitarian emergency. Over 3.2 million people are displaced, including over 2.9 million internally displaced persons in north-eastern Nigeria, over 684,000 IDPs in Cameroon, Chad and Niger and 304,000 refugees in the four countries.
Farmers/herders conflict that is more pronounced in north central states of Nigeria has also turned more than 160,000 persons into IDPs. Banditry and kidnapping industry that is ravaging the northwestern part of the country, is another cankerworm that has eaten deep into our security architecture, which calls for a more tactical approach in abating the situation. As a result of this nefarious activity, more than 8000 people were killed in Sokoto, Katsina and Zamfara States and about 1.7million are refugees in Niger Republic while another 186,820 were forced to take shelter in various IDPs camps.
Several government agencies and non-governmental organization renders a lot of succor to Persons of Concerns (PoC) including IDPs, migrants, refugees, victims of human trafficking, vulnerable women and children in Nigeria. These agencies include; National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI) and National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) among others.
Humanitarian emergencies remain one of the biggest development challenges of the 21st century. Despite the growing efforts to address the challenges of poverty and inequality as they affect most vulnerable members of developing countries. Meanwhile, sustainable development agendas and programmes, until recently, did not seem to give much attention to all categories of vulnerable individuals and groups.
According to the Displacement Tracking Matric (DTM) report from February 2020, 80% of IDPs population are women and children who are not the initiators of the conflicts but end up being the severest victims. For women and children, the situation is worsened because it is a case of double jeopardy as the war situations turn life into a ‘living hell’ for them because crimes are committed against their dignity and liberty.
The untold hardships being encountered by these persons of concern are too numerous to mention and also to outline workable solutions towards conquering them. The IDPs do not usually get enough financial support they deserve from the Government as most of the support comes from volunteers and international organizations. It seems that the IDPs of Nigeria are mostly recognizable by internal organizations but not the country. Thousands of people in Nigeria have been internally displaced from their homes and neither government nor volunteers can provide them with sufficient financial support. Therefore, these people have difficulties not only with finding a place to live but also no money to feed their children and cater for their other basic needs.
Another problem is lack of medical supplies within the IDPs camps. This makes it difficult to adequately take care of their health and well-being and thus make spread of diseases very much easier especially due to the overcrowded nature of the environment. In addition, the United Nations representatives continue to bring awareness to the issue of violence towards IDPs due to lack of understanding of their meaning. Some Nigerians see IDPs as a threat to their jobs. Moreover, there are also reports of violence on the basis of religion which is no doubt slowing down the authorities’ efforts in bringing relief to the affected individuals.
Recently, the National Commission for Refugees Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI) in collaboration with the National Primary Health-care Development Agency (NDPHC) in Nigerian has flagged off Mass Vaccination exercise for IDPs in Abuja. According to the Federal Commissioner, Imaan Sulaiman Ibrahim, the mass vaccination for the Persons of Concern in Nigeria was to make vaccines accessible to them on an equitable basis, to limit the spread of the virus.
Conversely, in another development, the Borno State Government has declared its intention to close down all IDPs camps located within Maiduguri, by December 31. Governor Zulum noted that the improvement in the security situation in the state was the reason that prompted this decision, so that the displaced persons could finally return to their ancestral homes.
Nevertheless, all tiers of governments should put more efforts in addressing the plights of these vulnerable people as well as their children as this will surely avert the looming security challenges that the country might face in the future.
Mukhtar is a Staff Writer with Emergency Digest
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