Donors’ Mission to northeast Nigeria
13 to 15 February 2017
Maiduguri, Borno State Nigeria, 15 February 2017. Representatives of 12 donor countries and agencies completed a three-day mission to Borno State, northeast Nigeria, hosted by the UN Organisation for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The mission took place in advance of the first Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region, to be co-hosted by Norway, Nigeria, Germany, and the UN in Oslo, Norway, on 23-24 February 2017. The objective of the mission was to increase understanding of the complex challenges through engagement with officials and IDPs and to take time to listen to the people whose lives have been devastated by Boko Haram violence. In this statement members of the donor delegation summarise their impressions, as an input to the Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region.
During the three-day mission, the delegation visited several IDP sites and host communities in Maiduguri and in recently accessible Local Government Areas, including Bama and Gwoza. Meetings were held with key stakeholders, comprising H.E. the Governor of Borno State, the Theatre Commander of the Nigerian Army, religious leaders, civil society representatives, UN staff and internally displaced persons (IDPs). The team welcomed the opportunity to engage freely in open and constructive dialogue with all parties.
The delegation observed that coordination within the humanitarian community has improved significantly over recent months. This is clearly demonstrated through a scale-up in the humanitarian response, most notably in the increase of food assistance to reach over 1.13 million people in January 2017. This is a significant step forward in meeting the food and nutrition needs of 5.1 million food-insecure people, as identified in the Humanitarian Response Plan for 2017. There are however huge levels of food needs yet to be covered.
While access continues to increase as a result of the military campaign, the humanitarian crisis in north east Nigeria has not yet ‘turned the corner’. The delivery of food and all basic services must expand until all IDPs are able to move freely to their homes, and pressure on host communities is reduced. This may take a long time given the scale and severity of this crisis. The international community has a role in supporting voluntary and sustainable returns. The overall situation remains fluid as access to previously stranded areas creates new humanitarian challenges. The humanitarian effort continues to demand flexibility when responding to changes in the environment. The rapid response that saved many lives following the incident in Rann is fully acknowledged. The delegation focussed on the three themes of the Oslo Humanitarian Conference:
1. Food Security and Nutrition
2. Protection and Access
The food security and nutrition situation, as noted above, has improved over the past few months. The number of people currently receiving food assistance has increased tenfold since October 2016. The Food Security Sector’s initiative will continue to be a key component of the scale-up. It was also reported that the improvement in food assistance has reduced sale of sex for food. The vulnerability of women remains a grave concern and efforts to improve protection must be scaled-up. However, despite this impressive improvement in delivering assistance, the situation remains alarming with several million conflict-affected people with acute food and nutrition needs left unattended. There are major challenges ahead.
The situation in the north east is also a protection crisis. Continuing insecurity means that many people are unable to access humanitarian assistance, leaving them in desperate need of food, clean water, basic services and protection. Civilians continue to face threats of death, abduction, violence, gender-based violence, and looting. Positive developments regarding protection must be noted, including the strengthening of psychosocial support for victims of gender-based violence (GBV). The delegation welcomed the assurance by H.E. Governor Shettima that the return of all IDPs will be carried out with in a safe, dignified and secure manner in line with the Kampala Convention. The delegation also welcomes the initiative of the Nigerian Government to co-lead the protection session at the upcoming Oslo Humanitarian Conference.
The education sector has been devastated by the humanitarian crisis. Education has been interrupted in most areas by the Boko Haram insurgency. School children have been killed, abducted and displaced, leading to unacceptably high levels of trauma. The delegation welcomes the priority given by H.E. Governor Shettima to education and most particularly the education of girls. Without an immediate investment in education, Borno State risks the radicalisation of a new generation. While more than 1,200 schools have been destroyed, it is not possible to wait for all schools to be rebuilt. The delegation commends the establishment of emergency schools and child-friendly spaces in IDP settlements. All parties accept that it is vital to provide youth with formal and non-formal education as well as livelihood skills. Psychosocial support should be provided for young conflict-affected learners. The delegation particularly welcomes the commitment by all religious leaders to use their places of worship as platforms to reach out to youth and to provide guidance that will help reduce the risk of radicalisation.
Other areas discussed included the investment in infrastructure, in the absence of a peace agreement. It is accepted that economic recovery and peace cannot begin without investment in the rebuilding of areas destroyed by conflict. Investment in reconstruction will help prevent a protracted crisis, as has been witnessed in other parts of the world. It should be primarily built on integrated humanitarian-development perspectives. If these communities are supported by a continued military presence and a return to civil authority, this will provide a basis for peace, recovery and the creation of livelihood opportunities. In this context, the delegation welcomes the return of civil authority to some Local Government Areas, advocating for the redeployment of civilian authorities to precede and prepare the returns of IDPs in all newly accessible areas whenever possible and the investment in the reconstruction of destroyed infrastructures. Meanwhile, IDPs should be free to relocate to areas of their choice and be allowed to stay in camps.
As the nature of the conflict is changing, and more and more areas are coming under government control, now is the time to expand humanitarian assistance, protection, basic services and essential infrastructure.
The delegation can report substantive progress in the scale-up of the humanitarian response. The essential elements of the humanitarian infrastructure are in place. Most positions are now filled by experienced humanitarian workers. Programmes have been designed in close consultation with government that address the key challenges. The delegation is confident that additional funding will be used and reported on properly, consistent with the norms of the humanitarian best practice.
The delegation, through this statement, urges all stakeholders to continue and expand efforts to address this humanitarian crisis. Further funding is required immediately as outlined in the United Nations appeal. The delegation acknowledge the role played by the Government of Nigeria to date, the leadership of Governor Shettima and the selfless efforts of all humanitarian workers who operate in a difficult and risky environment. The delegation also acknowledges the unprecedented levels of support from the Nigerian private sector. Continued support from these generous sources is essential. Finally, we acknowledge the resilience of the survivors of this conflict who must now rebuild their lives in the hope of a better future.
This Media Statement is issued on behalf of the 2017 donor mission to northeast, Nigeria. The participants in this mission, representing 12 donor countries and agencies, are listed below.
Maiduguri, 15 February 2017