Read caption Since its first attack in Northeast Nigeria, the armed group Boko Haram has left millions of women, men and children petrified, afraid to become the group's next target. Photo: NRC

What you should know about the humanitarian crisis in north-east Nigeria

Hajer Naili|Published 21. Jun 2018
Now in its ninth year, the violent conflict in north-east Nigeria has caused one of the most severe crises in the world, with 7.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.

Here are six things you should know about the crisis:

1. Civilians have borne the brunt of the crisis

Boko Haram’s terror campaign has led to the utter destruction of towns and villages, along with the homes and livelihoods of millions of families. Since 2007, Boko Haram’s insurgency has been mostly concentrated in three north-east Nigerian states, Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, across which 1.7 million people remain internally displaced.

2. Hundreds of thousands in hard-to-reach areas

It is estimated that about 800,000 people are displaced in areas where humanitarian aid cannot reach them because of ongoing hostilities and violent attacks. Additionally, a challenging physical environment (during the rainy season, in particular) and bureaucratic impediments are preventing the reach of aid to these populations.

3. Many have fled to neighbouring countries

Thousands of Nigerians have also fled to their neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Niger and Chad. As of 30 April, 2018, more than 213,400 Nigerian refugees were registered across the region. Simultaneously, cases of forced returns of Nigerian refugees from Cameroon were reported and denounced by UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies, including NRC.

4. Over 100,000 displaced in last six months

Intense military operations to re-take occupied areas have led to large-scale population movements, with over 100,000 new displacements in the last six months. With ongoing military operations, this trend is likely to continue. These movements can present humanitarian challenges, including family separations and an acute lack of access to basic services such as food, water and healthcare. New displacements have often led to the tapping of resources that are already overstretched in the locations where civilians are arriving.

5. Vexed by chronic development challenges

Prior to the crisis, the region was already vexed by chronic development challenges. While a robust humanitarian response is essential, the protracted nature of the crisis has created new needs requiring longer-term assistance. In the absence of a political solution, the crisis will likely continue beyond 2018.

6. Facilitating return

As stability has returned in certain areas, more than 1.4 million people have been able to return to their homes since 2015. The rehabilitation of infrastructure by local authorities and international organisations has been ongoing, along with projects to facilitate access to livelihood opportunities to both men and women, including launching businesses or renting land to cultivate.