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North-East Nigeria: Situation Update, 21 Jan - 1 Feb 2019

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As many as 39 related attacks by Non-State Armed Groups (NSAGs) were recorded in Borno and Yobe states during January 2019. Perpetrators targeted civilian and military infrastructure leading to the general deterioration of the security situation in Borno and Yobe states. The increasing volatility and unpredictable security situation is impacting the humanitarian response as more people are being displaced on a daily basis. Between November 2018 and January 31st, 2019, nearly 80,000 persons have been displaced.

On 28 January, NSAGs attacked Rann and set ablaze several houses including the Humanitarian Hub and warehouses for humanitarian supplies. A military convoy was ambushed in Dikwa, Borno State, with several soldiers reported to be among the casualties. On February 1, NSAGs ambushed several civilian convoys and abducted an unspecified number of people along the Damaturu-Biu highway in Yobe State.


Regional Protection Dialogue/Launch of HRS, RRRP From 28-29 January, Nigeria hosted the 2nd Regional Protection Dialogue (RPD2) for populations affected by the ongoing instability in the Lake Chad Basin. The Dialogue, which was hosted by Nigeria with facilitation by UNHCR, took stock of progress, examined the current challenges and renewed the commitments of the Governments of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria to collectively enhance protection and respond to the most urgent needs of refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and other affected populations in the Lake Chad Basin. NSAGs have terrorised north-east Nigeria since 2009 leading to millions being internally displaced and tens of thousands others fleeing into neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

The governments reaffirmed the importance of the renewed commitments to addressing issues highlighted in the 2016 Abuja Action Statement of the first RPD. The main issues were based on five thematic areas: - Forced Displacement and Freedom of Movement in Conflict; Civil-Military Coordination and the Civilian Character of Refugee and IDP Hosting Areas; Persons with Specific Protection Risks; Comprehensive Solutions Approach and Right to Nationality and Documentation.
The Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, (SRSG-UNOWAS) Mohammed Ibn Chambas, Head of the Department for International Development (DFID) in Nigeria, Ms. Debbie Palmer, represented the British High Commission in Abuja, and UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Volker Turk all addressed participants during the Dialogue. The RPD2 also provided a platform for inter-agency collaboration under the New Way of Working, as the UNHCR, UNDP and OCHA co-launched the first multi-year Nigeria Humanitarian Response Strategy (HRS) 2019-2021. The three-year response strategy includes a one-year Humanitarian Response Plan for 2019 for North-East Nigeria. The Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRRP) for Nigerian refugees in Cameroon, Niger and Chad was also launched on the same platform.

The HRS (2019-2021) is seeking $848 million for the 2019 Humanitarian Response in Northeast Nigeria, while the 2019-2020 RRRP is looking to raise $135 million. The two multi-year response plans articulate the combined vision of the humanitarian community and governments to provide assistance to the most vulnerable individuals affected by the crisis in North-East Nigeria and neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, while also looking at long term solutions for recovery and resilience for the affected communities.


On 28 January, 167 individuals in 49 families were forcefully returned by the Cameroonian military from the border region of Kolofata, Cameroon into Banki, Borno State. UNHCR monitors on the ground reported that the new arrivals were screened by the Nigerian military. In mid-January, more than 300 individuals were also returned to Banki,
Nigeria from Kolofata in Cameroon by the military. During that time, UNHCR High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi in a statement described the action as totally unexpected and expressed concerns about how the forced returns were putting the lives of thousands of refugees at further risk. He also appealed to Cameroon to continue its open door and hospitable policy and practices and to immediately halt more forced returns. The High Commissioner called upon the Government of Cameroon to ensure full compliance with its refugee protection obligations under its own national legislation, as well as international law.

UNHCR continues to urge the Cameroonian authorities to recognize that refugees can only return when the security situation allows, and their actions should be in line with the provisions of the Tripartite Agreement on the voluntary repatriation of refugees as well as commitments made at the recently concluded 2nd Regional Protection Dialogue on the Lake Chad Basin held in Abuja, Nigeria. On 30 January, 33 individuals in 12 families arrived voluntarily from Kolofata to reunite with family members who were forcefully returned to Banki on 28 January by the Cameroon military. UNHCR in Cameroon will verify the registration records.

As troops of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) engaged Non-State Armed Groups (NSAGs) to re-establish control of Rann and Baga in Borno during the last two weeks, civilians fled to Maiduguri and other areas in the state for their safety. The growing number of recently displaced is increasing pressure on the receiving centres which already have limited or non-existent facilities and services. By the middle of January, nearly 30,000 new arrivals had been recorded in camps near Maiduguri, the state capital, all in dire need of humanitarian assistance while more than 9,000 people were forced across the border to Cameroon as a result of the January Rann attacks