N’East Humanitarian Crisis Remains Severe, UN Warns 

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By Paul Obi in Abuja

The United Nations (UN) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) yesterday warned that humanitarian in the North East part of the country remain severe as Boko Haram attacks continue.

In a new report for the month of November, OCHA said: “The humanitarian crisis in north-east Nigeria remains severe due to ongoing conflict, continued internal displacement and the unpredictable return of refugees from neighbouring countries. 

“New population movements continued to be recorded in November, with 1,862 new arrivals in Gwoza, followed by 729 in Askira/Uba, 428 in Mafa, 373 in Ngala and 358 in Madagali; Jere and Chibok recorded relatively high numbers of departures. 

“Additionally, recent important and unexpected arrivals of population (over 13,000 persons) were recorded in Nganzai, Konduga and Magumeri where there is very limited partner presence due to insecurity and lack of access.”

UN maintained that “humanitarian agencies mobilised to address the most urgent needs, in particular through the rapid response mechanism (RRM), filling the most pressing gaps until sectors can plan and deliver a comprehensive response.

“While food security has improved throughout the north-east in 2017 as a result of a massive scale-up of humanitarian food and livelihoods assistance, the situation remains extremely fragile with many households, particularly in Borno State, mainly dependent on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic food and livelihood needs.

“Many remain forced to resort to negative coping strategies to access food. The most recent Cadre Harmonisé analysis (finalised in November) projects that, without adequate and timely humanitarian assistance, 3.7 million individuals will be facing critical levels of food insecurity during the 2018 lean season (June through September). 

“The figure does not include four Borno State local government areas (LGAs) where data could not be collected due to access constraints (in Abadam, Guzamala and Marte) or lack of partner capacity (in Kala/Balge).

“In addition to food insecurity, issues of protection continue to cause extremely serious concern throughout the north-east, including person-borne explosive device attacks in or near IDP camps, and sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) of internally displaced persons (IDPs) by those supposed to protect them, as was reported in Bama (Borno State). In addition, on 1 November, four pupils in a primary school in Kwaya Kusar, Borno State, were gruesomely attacked.”

The organisation stressed that “two of them died and the other two were severely wounded. This direct attack against an educational institution, the first one in two years, may impact school attendance as parents may fear for their children’s lives. In addition, following the resurgence of attacks by non-state armed groups in some parts of Adamawa State, 12 primary schools have been closed, affecting education continuity for the children enrolled in those schools.

“The dry season has also allowed the work on ‘deep field’ humanitarian hubs to accelerate and, to date, five out of the nine planned hubs are complete (Maiduguri, Ngala, Dikwa, Bama and Gwoza). Another four (Monguno, Damasak, Banki and Rann) are expected to be fully operational by early 2018. As these hubs offer secure accommodation and Internet connectivity for aid workers, they are instrumental in supporting effective last-mile aid delivery and enhancing local coordination.

“With close to 70 per cent (US$731 million out of $1.05 billion) of the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) funding requirements received before year-end, the humanitarian response in Nigeria is one of the world’s best funded. 

“This has hampered the humanitarian agencies’ ability to deliver comprehensive livelihood support to affected people, has slowed down debris removal activities in major towns, and overall limited early recovery work across north-east Nigeria.

“As the year draws to a close, sectors and humanitarian organisations continued to carry out various programme-based and area-based needs assessments which are contributing to drafting the 2018 Humanitarian Needs Overview and Humanitarian Response Plan, to be finalised respectively by mid-December and early January.”