“Every day we pray for protection and peace.”
Boussam Abdulahi, Nigerian refugee
Approximately 17 million people in the Lake Chad Basin have been affected by the conflict, including more than 2.5 million displaced from their homes. The crisis has been exacerbated by conflict-induced hunger and malnutrition, which have risen to critical levels in all four countries.
Some 8.5 million Nigerians in the three most-affected states are in need of humanitarian assistance. Over 200,000 refugees have fled to Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
The challenges of protecting the displaced are compounded by ongoing insecurity as well as socio-economic fragility, with communities in the Sahel region facing chronic poverty, a harsh climate, recurrent epidemics, poor infrastructure and limited access to basic services.
The Nigerian military, together with the Multinational Joint Task Force, has driven extremists from many of the areas they once controlled, but these gains have been overshadowed by an increase of Boko Haram attacks in neighbouring countries. Despite the return of Nigerian IDPs and refugees to liberated areas, the crisis remains acute.
What is UNHCR doing to help?
UNHCR has scaled up its response and is working with the authorities in north-eastern Nigeria, as well as with UN partners, to help displaced people and returning refugees regain a sense of normal life. This work includes efforts to ensure that their rights are respected, to provide legal and psycho-social support to victims of sexual abuse and gender-based violence, and to supply shelter and basic household items. We are also advocating for access to basic services as well as guaranteed peace and security, should returns be sustainable.
In neighbouring countries, we are working with the authorities to ensure that refugees are not forced to return to Nigeria against their will, and coordinating the humanitarian assistance provided by UN agencies and NGO partners through our Regional Refugee Response Plan.