Conflict, Crisis and Hunger in North-East Nigeria
Ongoing conflict with the militant Islamic group Boko Haram has created a dire humanitarian crisis in northeastern Nigeria. In Borno state, some 244,000 children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition, while malnutrition levels in newly-accessible areas in Borno and Yobe states were “extremely critical” with rates ranging from 20 to 50 percent.
Currently, 1.8 million people are displaced from their homes, many of whom live in overcrowded displacement camps with inadequate shelter, drainage, and services. Over 1.4 million of those displaced reside in Borno state, where humanitarian access to desperately vulnerable communities has been severely limited by the ongoing conflict. The instability has also hindered families’ access to food, clean water, and health care. In early July 2016, the Nigerian Minister of Health declared a nutrition emergency in Borno state, where 2.5 million malnourished children under five and breastfeeding mothers require assistance.
As the Nigerian army has recently regained control of some of Boko Haram’s strongholds, many Nigerians who fled are now returning to the devastated villages and towns, and the number of returnees is expected to increase in the coming weeks. According to the government of Nigeria, nearly all health facilities in the newly-accessible areas have been vandalized or completely damaged and require urgent repairs or rehabilitation to improve access and quality of service provision. The most pressing needs are food, potable water, shelter, health, nutrition, and livelihoods.
The insurgency has also spread across Nigeria’s borders. The Lake Chad Basin, which includes Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger, continues to experience violence and displacement, with some 2.6 million people uprooted from their homes across the region. Additionally, 6.3 million people are estimated to be facing severe food insecurity, 478,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
International Medical Corps has worked in Nigeria since 2013 and currently have teams in Sokoto, Kano, and Borno states. In Borno, the epicenter of the crisis in the northeastern corner of Nigeria, our programs include health, nutrition, water and sanitation, gender-based violence prevention and response, and food security. We are also responding to emergency needs of displaced populations in Chad and Cameroon. Our interventions target both communities and health facilities and include training wherever possible so that knowledge and skills remain long after our inventions end.