October 24, 2018

Nigeria: Building resilient and sustainable communities

Written by United Nations

6 October 2018 – During a two-day joint official visit to Nigeria, Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, and United Nations Development Programme Admnistrator, Achim Steiner, met with people affected by the Lake Chad basin crisis in the northeastern state of Borno.

The two UN officials heard from internally displaced persons (IDPs), host communities and returnees in Bama town and Ngwom village, of their struggles and priorities as they try to rebuild their lives.

Three years ago, Boko Haram raided Babagazara’s village in Borno. She recalled, “When they [members of Boko Haram] came in, we all started running in different directions. When I turned around I could not see my husband and children anymore…. I arrived here in Bama IDP camp yesterday and was reunited with my husband and 6 children, after so many long months. Life will be better now. We still need support, mostly food, and my children need to go back to some kind of school. But we are so happy to be together again.”

The 10-year conflict in north-east Nigeria has affected Borno state the most in Nigeria. “We have met remarkable people in the north-east, who have been hosting displaced people for months, and sometimes for years. Living in very dire conditions themselves, they have not hesitated to share their meagre resources with people who were forced to flee their homes,” said Mr. Lowcock.

He continued: “Those displaced, many of whom are women and children, have generally fled in horrendous circumstances. They show tremendous resilience, but they need to be protected, particularly against sexual violence and abuse.”

Many people are returning home in north-east Nigeria even as more continue to be displaced. Across Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states, displaced women, girls and boys have differing but overlapping assistance and protection needs.

Falmata’s village of Ngwom was destroyed recently. “We were displaced for many months but now finally managed to come back. The security situation is better, and it is less risky for us to be here… At the beginning there was nothing left. But aid came in and everything has now been rebuilt and is much bigger and more solid than before. We now have a new house, with a garden… my brothers and I can go back to school, in the new school that has just opened further down the road.”

Mr. Lowcock underlined that as well as providing life-saving assistance, it is essential that the Government, humanitarian and development partners work together to address the root causes of the conflict to try to reduce needs, risk and vulnerability, and to prevent further crises from taking place.

He added, “Unless we address urgent support needs as well as the root causes of the crisis, we will see a risk of increased recruitment into non-state armed groups and a resurgence in violence even in the more stable areas.”.

To prevent future crises, national and international partners need to provide IDP and host communities with durable solutions, in line with international standards, including the Kampala Convention and the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.