UNICEF/Gilbertson VII Photo

Boko Haram Resurgence Triggers Massive Humanitarian Crisis

Following an upsurge in violence in north-east Nigeria, which was brought to global attention five years ago with the abduction by Boko Haram extremists of the Chibok schoolgirls, tens of thousands of innocent civilians continue to flee, prompting “grave concern” from the United Nations envoy there.

The conflict in Nigeria’s north-east provoked by the Boko Haram terrorist group has triggered a deep humanitarian crisis. Since the start of the conflict in 2009, more than 20,000 people have been killed and thousands of women and girls abducted. Nearly seven million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, over 50 per cent of whom are children.

Clashes between Nigerian government forces and non-State armed groups on 26 December in Baga town, about 200 kilometers north of state capital Maiduguri, triggered massive displacement, pushing civilians to converge on already-congested camps or sites for internally displaced people. An attempted attack on 28 December in Monguno, further exacerbated the situation, leading to more displacement.

“The impact of the recent fighting on innocent civilians is devastating and has created a humanitarian tragedy,” said UN Humanitarian Coordinator Edward Kallon after visiting Monguno and Teachers Village camp for internally displaced people in Maiduguri.

“The United Nations is extremely concerned about the impact that violence in north-east Nigeria, especially in Borno State, is having on civilians”, he added.

In recent weeks, more than 30,000 internally displaced people have arrived in Maiduguri, mainly from Baga – the majority since 20 December, often after arduous journeys with young children.

While it is still unclear how many people are taking refuge in Monguno, tens of thousands are in need of humanitarian assistance, notably shelter, food, water and sanitation.

Some 260 aid workers have been withdrawn from the local government areas of Monguno, Kala/Balge and Kukawa, which have been affected by the conflict since November. This represents the largest withdrawal of aid workers since the international humanitarian response was scaled up in 2016, hindering the delivery of vital aid to hundreds-of-thousands of people.

While aid workers have begun returning to respond to the urgent, life-saving needs, the lack of a secure operating environment continues to prevent normal humanitarian activities.

The 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan for Nigeria sought funding of $1.05 billion to assist 6.2 million people, and was 66 per cent funded.

Earlier this month, Borno elders made 10 requests to President Muhammadu Buhari to tackle the resurgence of Boko Haram in the state. The requests of the delegation have not been disclosed to the media at this time.

Kylie Bull has 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. She is an editor and contributor for Jane's by IHS Markit, a columnist for security and counter-terror publications, and a former managing editor for Homeland Security Today.

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