Foreword by the Humanitarian Coordinator
Developments in 2019 have led to an upsurge in the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance. Between 2017 and 2019, the number of people in need of urgent assistance reduced from 8.5 million to 7.1 million. Increased attacks by non-state armed groups against civilians, compounded by the effects of climate change, natural hazards and disease outbreaks, are exacerbating the needs of a population already afflicted by more than ten years of protracted crisis. Millions of people have been plunged into further vulnerability and 7.9 million are now in need of life-saving aid in 2020 – 800,000 more people than in 2019.
In 2019, more than 180,000 people were forced to flee their homes, some for a second or third time since the beginning of the crisis, mainly due to increased attacks. Access to land and livelihoods has become more difficult for most people affected by the crisis. Violations and abuse of international humanitarian and human rights law remain pervasive.
Non-state armed groups are increasingly setting up illegal checkpoints on main supply routes directly targeting civilians. This condemnable practice has disastrous consequences for civilians and humanitarians, hindering freedom of movement and heightening protection risks.
It is now more difficult for aid workers to provide urgent assistance to the most vulnerable women, men, boys and girls affected by the crisis in the north-east. Locations across the BAY states, in which aid organisations were working, are now inaccessible as a direct result of mounting insecurity. Since January 2019, humanitarian workers and the aid they deliver have become the direct target of attacks by non-state armed groups. In 2019, twelve humanitarian workers, some of our most dedicated colleagues, were tragically killed for their selfless work and their belief in core human values. This is twice the number of aid workers killed in 2018. Not a single day passes without honoring the sacrifice they made and sending thoughts to their families. Each and every day we also remember the unspeakable plight of Alice Loksha and Grace Taku, two female aid workers who are still being held captive of non-state armed groups and call upon their immediate release and safe return for their families.
This worrisome situation has prompted a more resolute response from the humanitarian community and, remarkably, from our key Nigerian partners. 2019 was also marked by encouraging new developments and increased engagement by the Nigerian Government. The North-East Development Commission became fully operational in May 2019, and the UN and its humanitarian partners welcomed the establishment of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development in August 2019.
Together, we are improving our planning, analysis, prioritization and preparedness. The Humanitarian Response Plan proposed in this document is the result of increased collaboration and exchange between all actors – not only UN agencies and international NGO partners but also Government and State authorities, local communities, and key actors in development, peace-building and stabilization. In line with the 2019-2021 Humanitarian Response Strategy adopted jointly by the humanitarian community and the Government of Nigeria, the new approach pays particular attention to reflecting the priorities identified by affected people themselves, and considers the specific needs of diverse groups of people, including women and girls and people living with disabilities Despite challenges, in 2019, the humanitarian community provided urgent assistance to 5.2 million people, most of them women and children. Together, we saved the lives of over 365 children every day and provided food assistance to about 2.4 million people each month.
Donor support has been and remains essential. In 2019, the $848 million appeal was 68.3 per cent funded, representing nearly $580 million. We are grateful for the trust and confidence that donors place in us and their commitment towards alleviating the suffering of Nigeria’s most vulnerable.
Together, in 2020, we will save even more lives and aim to reach 5.9 million people across the most affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe with a financial appeal of $839 million. In 2020, we will maintain the centrality of protection at all levels of humanitarian action. We will pay particular attention to empowering local organizations and enabling Nigerians to cope with, and overcome, the impact of the protracted crisis while identifying more sustainable solutions.
Humanitarian assistance is not a long-term solution to the protracted crisis in north-east Nigeria. Together we have to focus on four critical elements: prevention, stabilization, transformation and sustainability. We have to seize all opportunities to save and protect lives as a matter of urgency, prevent further violence, and foster recovery, peace-building, reconstruction and development efforts wherever and whenever possible. Together we can restore hope to the most vulnerable and a chance at a brighter future for the millions of people affected.
In addition to the ongoing humanitarian emergencies in the country, the COVID-19 pandemic poses a potential monumental social and economic threat to Nigeria, with a devastating knock on effect for the most vulnerable population in the BAY states who have endured a decade of conflict. The UN system in Nigeria launched a One UN Response Plan to COVID-19 to support the rapid implementation of the Government’s National COVID-19 Multi-Sectoral Pandemic Response Plan and will continue to support strong coordination and coherence with all stakeholders responding to the pandemic.
Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria