"I dream of a country where all men would live in peace and there would be nothing like wars or Boko Haram to break us apart.

I dream of a time when all tribes would speak one language called peace.

And there is equality for all."

-Victor Igiri, Nigerian Poet

Escalating Humanitarian Needs

The Boko Haram conflict affecting the Lake Chad Basin area, particularly in northeast Nigeria, has resulted in large scale displacement and a significant protection crisis. In Nigeria alone, over 2.2 million people are internally displaced, including many living in temporary sites without basic services, where conditions fail to meet the most basic standards. These numbers continue to grow.

The leading agency for emergency response in Nigeria, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Borno State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) have been on the ground addressing the needs of the displaced from the onset.International agencies, including the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are supporting the Government’s response.

IOM has so far provided humanitarian support to nearly 325,000 people in northeast Nigeria through provision of non-food items, shelter, psychological first aid, camp coordination and camp management (CCCM) and training to meet SPHERE minimum standards in humanitarian relief. Additionally, significant resources have been mobilized over the past 18 months with steps taken by IOM to deploy additional technical experts in the area of shelter, camp management and displacement tracking.

Photo: IOM

To ensure a well-managed distribution of non-food items (NFIs), IOM first conducts a head count with the assistance of local authorities. Vouchers are then handed methodically to heads of households, which facilitates a smooth and orderly disbursement of items.

Core relief items (cooking and other essential elements of daily life) make a tremendous impact in the lives of those displaced. Photo: IOM 2016/Muse Mohammed

IOM is reinforcing its response and coordination capacities in Nigeria to address the escalating humanitarian needs.

However, significantly more financial support is needed to continue to provide shelter, displacement tracking and bio-metric registration,camp management and psycho-social help for people affected by the crisis.

"I left my hometown of Bama 19 months ago where I was a tailor. What I miss most is my eldest daughter who has been kidnapped by Boko Haram and my husband, whom they killed." - Atai

Atai’s story is similar to thousands of families who have been impacted. Uprooted from their homes and displaced without shelter, makeshift homes have sprung up in available spaces both in camps and communities.

In more extreme cases, families cannot even scavenge sufficient materials for makeshift shelter. People also sought shelter in public and unfinished buildings, including schools. As a direct result of the crisis, education for most of Borno state’s children has stalled. In late 2015 when the Borno state government asked IDPs to vacate schools, the humanitarian community rallied behind a planned,voluntary and dignified relocation so that education could resume.

Women and children who fled Boko Haram's mayhem now wait to be relocated to camps from classrooms where they had set up informal shelters. This also frees up schools so that children can continue their education. Photo: IOM 2016/Muse Mohammed

The conflict affected population and survivors of Boko Haram attacks can suffer from several forms of psychosocial distress, which are amplified by displacement. The impact on children is very apparent in children’s drawings, which often depict weapons, militants and lost loved ones.

Overcoming Trauma

Following the abduction of 219 girls from a school in Chibok, Borno state in April 2014, IOM rolled out its psychosocial programme with the aim of protecting and promoting the psychosocial well being of returning Chibok girls, their families and the affected communities. Forty-seven of the girls who managed to escape within a few days of the abduction have benefited from IOM psychosocial services.

The issue extends far beyond the Chibok group: teams have since expanded to reach those in need in the capitals of Adamawa and Borno states.

Psychosocial support is given based on detailed family assessments and profiles of the affected families. Direct psychosocial assistance, including lay counselling, recreational activities, referrals to specialized mental health services and case follow-up is given through mobile teams.

The teams also support health and hygiene promotion. They are in daily contact with displaced communities,conducting rounds of the camps, holding health awareness sessions, and handing out flyers sensitizing people on the importance of practising good hygiene and how to improve the cleanliness of their environments.

Photo: IOM

Education and capacity-building of families and relevant authorities on psychological first aid, so they can support their own, is an important part of the work.With the strain of protracted displacement, and with continued new displacements including people escaping from Boko Haram strongholds, the need for psychosocial support will not diminish in the near future.

Sport brings relief (and some pleasure) to those who have lost so much. Photo: IOM 2016/Muse Mohammed

Like countless others, Al-Haji Mustapha left his home with his family 19 months ago where he was a farmer and businessman.

“As a family man, I miss being able to address the various needs of my large family. Despite this, I have little incentive to return to Ngala, as my home, crops and shop have been burned to the ground”.

"Now I have to accept whatever comes my way. I feel helpless.” - Al-Haji Mustapha
SDG 3 - Good Health and Well Being
SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
SDG 16 - Peace Justice and Strong Institutions