Needs will remain high for vulnerable people in 2021 and 8.7 million people will require urgent assistance 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
Nigeria is now facing a second wave of COVID-19 infections. Borno, Adamawa, Yobe states have recorded new cases. Aid actors are intensifying actions and prevention measures
Despite challenges, aid workers had already provided around 5 million people with life-saving assistance in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states in 2020.
Some of the most brutal and direct attacks targeting civilian populations were recorded in November and December, including against internally displaced persons (IDPs) and aid workers or humanitarian assets. On 8 December, a major health facility in Geidam LGA of Yobe State was looted by NSAG operatives who burned the only ambulance servicing the community of over 30,000 people. Several community schools were set on fire in similar attacks in Hawul and Gombi LGAs of Borno and Adamawa states on Christmas Eve. Over 100 civilians were killed over these two months and dozens more feared abducted, including an aid worker who is still missing. The end of the rainy season enabled government forces to intensify operations leading to increased clashes with non-state armed groups (NSAGs) who also ramped up attacks towards the end of the year, with civilians bearing the brunt. NSAG attacks on farming communities increased towards the end of 2020, sparking global outrage after tens of farmers were killed while harvesting their rice farms in Koshobe community, some 15 km outside Maiduguri in late November. On 1 December, the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr Edward Kallon, visited the affected communities to commiserate with the victims’ families. He urged Nigerian authorities and all parties to the conflict to ensure the protection of civilians and greater respect of international and human rights laws. These frequent attacks against farmers and fishermen come at a time when food insecurity is rapidly deteriorating across the BAY states. The November Cadre Harmonisé (CH) analysis now projects that up to 5.1 million people risk being critically food insecure during the next lean season (June to August 2021).
Food insecurity at such large scale had not been recorded since 2016-2017 when some worst-affected locations faced famine-like conditions. As part of efforts to avert a major food crisis, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC) Mark Lowcock in mid-November approved $15 million for urgent food aid in the BAY states. With the end of the rainy season and relative improvement of road conditions, partners scaled up deliveries of food, NFIs and other critical supplies to deep field locations ending weeks of severe shortages for over 300,000 IDPs and host populations in Damboa, Gwoza and Bama LGAs. New waves of NSAG attacks and clashes with government forces along key supply routes however aggravated access challenges in northern Borno. Several aid trucks were unable to reach civilian locations, particularly in Mobbar, Ngala and Monguno LGAs. Deadly armed clashes in Damasak town, Mobbar LGA near the border with Niger, forced a 10-day suspension of UNHAS helicopter flights while several aid trucks were delayed, resulting in weeks of shortages for over 78,000 IDPs, refugee returnees and host community populations in the area. Partners managed to resume truck deliveries to Damasak in late December, through the OCHA-led civil-military coordination (CMCOORD) mechanisms and the scale up of cash and voucher (CVA) programming is being explored as viable alternative. Borno State government is planning to facilitate the return of up to 10,000 Nigerian refugees from Minawao region of Cameroon to Banki town, Bama LGA in early 2021.
Although the state government has commenced rehabilitation of damaged homes and facilities in return areas, many of the returnees will likely settle in already crowded camps to gain access to assistance and critical services. Aid organisations commenced repair works on over 500 shelters damaged by unknown persons in the Banki camp extension areas where some of the returnees may be hosted. Partners are working with government actors including the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and security agencies to pre-position relief materials and also provide protection for returnees.
On a mission to Nigeria in November, UN Deputy Secretary-General (DSG) Amina Mohammed visited Banki town and emphasized the need to scale up humanitarian assistance and protection of civilians, particularly women and children. She saluted increased collaborations among stakeholders in finding solutions to the crisis that will enable displaced populations to return home and restart their lives in safety. Borno Government facilitated the transfer of some 3,400 IDPs to Marte LGA, on the shores of the Lake Chad in late November, continuing unilateral relocation of civilians to hard-to-reach and inaccessible areas which started in August 2020. Marte is among the worst-affected areas of Borno State and is not accessible to aid workers since 2014. The humanitarian community continues to advocate for principled and multistakeholder approach to civilian relocations across the region. Following the onset of the harmattan season and increased risks of fire outbreaks, partners intensified awareness and risk mitigation campaigns across vulnerable camps and host communities in the BAY states. The influx of new arrivals across camps has triggered the construction of makeshift shelters, mostly made from raffia and bamboos that become dry and highly flammable during the harmattan season. At least five fire incidents have been reported across camps in Monguno LGA in recent weeks directly affecting over 800 people.
The Inter-Sector Working Group (ISWG) is also developing a camp decongestion strategy that will address risks of outbreaks across camps and communities in the BAY states. Health partners rolled out the final phase of the Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention (SMC) campaign for the year, targeting over 60,000 children in Bama and Banki towns, while suspected cases of Yellow Fever reported in Gwoza LGA are being investigated and surveillance mechanisms fully activated including in neighbouring locations. A major Yellow Fever vaccination campaign targeting vulnerable locations is planned for January 2021. Like the rest of the country, the BAY states witnessed an upsurge in COVID-19 infections, recording some 290 new cases in November and December. Partners are intensifying response activities including risk awareness and mitigation messaging in local languages and via media, active case search and community mobilization, and support to isolation facilities across BAY states. Funding will be crucial to enable partners to scale up support to BAY states which are already struggling with paucity of resources and weak health systems. Despite access challenges, funding shortfall and unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic which forced up the number of people in need to 10.6 million from 7.9 million in January, the humanitarian community reached about 5 million people with multi-sectoral response across the BAY states this year. As of 31 December, only 51% of the $1.08 billion required for the humanitarian response had been received, reinforcing a declining trend in funding since 2017.