The humanitarian crisis in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states in Nigeria’s north-east, that has spilled over into the Lake Chad region, is among the most severe humanitarian crises in the world today. 7.1 million people in Nigeria are in need of urgent, life-saving humanitarian assistance in 2019 and 6.2 million are targeted to receive aid.
The crisis, largely triggered by a regionalized armed conflict, is first and foremost a protection crisis. Civilians continue to bear the brunt of a conflict that has led to widespread forced displacement and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.
Since the start of the conflict in 2009, more than 27,000 people have been killed and thousands of women and girls abducted. 17. Violence against women, girls and children, including sexual violence, exposure to trafficking, and other forms of gender-based violence, is all too common yet underreported. Women are often forced into survival sex in exchange for food, movement and items to meet their basic needs, while some vulnerable households have resorted to early marriage and child labour. Thousands of children swell in the ranks of armed actors and predominantly women and children are compelled by non-state armed groups to carry person-borne improvised explosive devices.
Now in its tenth year, the conflict continues to uproot the lives of tens of thousands of children, women and men. As of 2019, 1.8 million Nigerians have fled from their homes and are internally displaced, the majority in Borno State – the epicentre of the crisis. 80 per cent of internally displaced people are women and children, and one in four are under the age of five.
Insecurity due to ongoing hostilities and military operations have led to waves of mass displacement and continue to impact humanitarian operations. Vast swaths of Borno State are considered high or very high risk for international humanitarian actors, often constraining access to desperately vulnerable communities. An estimated 823,000 people remain inaccessible to humanitarian actors.
Since 2016, humanitarian actors have been working in support of the Government of Nigeria to robustly scale up the response. In 2018 alone, more than 5.5 million people received humanitarian assistance in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states. Beginning in 2019, the humanitarian community is embarking on a three-year response strategy that prioritizes life-saving aid while addressing the root causes of the conflict and looking towards lasting solutions that promote recovery and resilience.