- Up to 5.1 million people risk being critically food insecure during the next lean season (June - August 2021), a level similar to 2016-2017 when famine was looming over Borno State
- The UN Central Emergency Fund has allocated $15 million for urgent food aid. The Humanitarian Coordinator has called for the international community to follow and step up support
- 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 COVID-19
- Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states recorded COVID-19 cases, some in IDP camps. Aid actors have adapted the response, including setting up hand washing stations and quarantine shelters
- Despite challenges, aid workers have already reached over 3.6 million people with life-saving assistance in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states since the beginning of the year
In September, heavy windstorms and flash floods marking the peak of the rainy season continued to devastate homes and shelters across IDP camps, informal settlements and host communities in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) states. Aid operations, particularly the movement of trucks carrying food and other critical supplies, were severely hampered by flooding along major routes. These delays were exacerbated by disruptions in the supply chain due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Some areas experienced weeks of food shortages particularly in Bama, Ngala, Damboa, Banki, and Dikwa Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Borno State. Partners have scaled up water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programming and were able to prevent the outbreak of deadly water-borne diseases such as cholera during the rainy season. However, increased cases of malaria, malnutrition and respiratory diseases are major concerns.
The security situation across the north-east remains volatile. Multiple attacks by non-state armed groups and clashes with government forces were recorded across locations in September. Civilians and aid workers continue to face grave safety risks, especially along key supply routes in Borno State where at least 21 NSAG illegal vehicle checkpoint (IVCP) incidents were recorded during the month (up from 16 in August). Civilians, including technicians contracted by aid agencies to fix solar panels across locations in Bama LGA, were targeted and wounded in one of such checkpoint on 15 September, and their convoy ran over an improvised explosive device (IED), directly impacting aid operations.
Between 14 and 18 September, a high-level UN delegation composed of the Humanitarian Coordinator Mr. Edward Kallon, Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator Mr. Vincent Lelei, and heads of OCHA, UNDSS, WFP and UNHCR visited the BAY states to engage with affected populations, community leaders, government and partners. They addressed key urgent issues, including protection of civilians, quality of the response, relocations and returns, and the need for greater synergy among all actors and stakeholders. The delegation visited camps and host communities where IDPs and community members emphasized the need for further food and general assistance. Women IDPs also underlined the need to reinforce protection assistance for women and girls. Meeting with governors in the three states, the Humanitarian Coordinator stressed on the imperative of maintaining joint efforts in preventing the propagation of COVID-19 across most fragile communities and the need to ensure greater protection for aid workers in light of increasing insecurity.
In Borno State, the Humanitarian Coordinator also discussed the sensitive issue of resettlement and relocation, insisting on the need for greater engagement from the authorities with the aid community and the respect of agreed-on mechanisms to ensure safe and dignified returns. Despite escalating insecurity and high-level advocacy by the humanitarian community on the need for greater stakeholder engagement on IDP resettlement, Borno State Government proceeded with the unilateral relocation, on a voluntary basis, of IDPs to return areas that are still inaccessible to aid agencies due to ongoing insecurity. On 26 September, more than 1,250 IDP households were relocated from Monguno LGA to Baga town, Kukawa LGA, on the shores of the Lake Chad where NSAGs reportedly maintain a presence. On the eve of the relocation, a military-escorted government convoy comprising the Governor’s entourage, security personnel and trucks carrying reconstruction materials was ambushed along Monguno-Baga road with at least 18 people killed. More IDPs from Baga who are living in camps across Maiduguri have registered for similar relocations in following weeks. Other locations listed for relocations include Ngoshe, Ashigashiya and Kirawa towns (in Gwoza LGA) and Marte LGA, all of which are still inaccessible to aid workers. The BAY states, like the rest of the country, recorded lower numbers of new COVID-19 cases.
Experts, including the Nigeria Center for Disease Control are warning these lower infection rates are most probably due to reduced testing across the country. Humanitarian partners have however sustained response and risk mitigation activities throughout September. More than 14,600 screenings were conducted during the month across 23 points of entry, including motor parks across the BAY states. Ahead of school resumption in early October, education and health partners supported government line ministries in carrying out fumigation of schools, training of health workers, teachers and school managers.
They also prepositioned WASH kits and installed facilities such as handwashing points across schools to support a safe reopening. Partners also intensified risk mitigation and awareness-raising messages, including through community mobilisers, radio and TV announcements, posters, and focus group discussions across communities in the BAY states.
Humanitarian partners continue to deliver despite additional challenges posed by COVID-19, heightened insecurity and access constraints and had reached 3.6 million people with multisectoral assistance by the end of September. However, funding for the Humanitarian Response Plan 2020 is at a historic low. As of end of September, only 40 per cent of the total $1.08 billion funding required to provide life-saving assistance to 10.6 million people had been received by end of September.