The ongoing conflict in north-east Nigeria, now entering its eleventh year, and the upsurge in violent attacks witnessed over the past year in the crisis-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe have deepened humanitarian needs. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbates the situation and risks wreaking havoc on the most vulnerable population.
Across the three crisis-affected BAY states, 10.6 million people out of a total of 13 million – four in five people – will need some form of humanitarian assistance in 2020. This is a 49 per cent increase in the number of people in need since last year, up from 7.1 million, mainly from increasing violence and insecurity further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is also the highest number of people in need estimated since the beginning of the coordinated humanitarian response five years ago.
In 2019, humanitarian organisations provided support to more than 5.2 million, which represents 84 per cent of the 6.2 million people targeted for assistance at the beginning of the year. Over 4 million people received emergency health treatment or support, 2.4 million benefited from food assistance; and everyday aid workers saved the lives of over 650 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
Despite these considerable achievements, the humanitarian situation in Nigeria remains one of the largest crises in the world today. Urgent assistance is needed to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in the most populous country in Africa, especially in overcrowded camps for internally displaced persons.
Now is the time for all stakeholders to take coordinated action sustained by sufficient resources. All actors urgently need to work together to strengthen a principled response and facilitate access to the most vulnerable people to maintain hard-won gains in providing protection and basic services to millions of people and prevent the humanitarian crisis in north-east Nigeria from spiralling back downwards to unprecedented levels.
Failure to do so would not only have dire consequences for the future of the most vulnerable people in the north-east, compromising their coping mechanisms and prospects of survival, but also have far-reaching implications in terms of human suffering, as well as on regional stability and prospect for development.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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