After seven years of conflict in northeast Nigeria, over 20 000 people have been killed and 1.78 million remain internally displaced. The scale of the humanitarian crisis is massive, and a high level of insecurity across the area continues to seriously hamper access and the delivery of assistance, with urgent needs largely unmet. In 2018, 7.7 million people require humanitarian assistance. Up to 3.7 million are people expected to be food insecure and 12 500 could face famine-like conditions in 2018 in northeastern states.
In Africa’s most populous country, over 60% of the population live below the poverty line and has no access to health care, education or safe drinking water. Since the start of the Boko Haram insurgency in 2009, violence has claimed the lives of thousands of civilians in northeastern Nigeria and forced 1.78 million people to flee become internally displaced as a result. While some found shelter with relatives, the majority of internally displaced people lives in precarious conditions in informal settlements and mostly rely on the charity of local communities. In addition, there are around 202 000 Nigerian refugees in neighbouring Cameroon, Chad, and Niger.
Increased attention has to be paid to the food crisis in the northeast, driven by insecurity which has already massive consequences. High rates of acute malnutrition - well beyond the emergency threshold - and worrying food insecurity levels remain key humanitarian concerns, with sections of the population at risk of famine. Furthermore, 930 000 people remain beyond the reach of humanitarian organisations.
In addition, due to inadequate hygiene and sanitation, Nigeria is regularly affected by epidemics such as cholera, lassa fever, polio, meningitis, and measles. A lassa fever outbreak which started in January has already spread to 18 states.
The European Commission provides immediate assistance to cover the basic needs of those internally displaced, host populations in Nigeria, as well as refugees in other countries affected by the Lake Chad basin crisis, namely Chad, Niger, and Cameroon. The provision of food assistance, protection, health care, and nutrition support to the conflict-affected population of violence are priorities.
Humanitarian aid goes to food distributions through in-kind/cash-based transfer, to clinics providing lifesaving nutrition medical care, as well as to ensure access to water and sanitation, hygiene, first-need items, shelter, and protection. They also contribute to increased access, through the Humanitarian Air Service, and to the coordination of humanitarian organisations.
Since 2014, the European Commission, through its Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department has allocated over €155 million for humanitarian assistance in Nigeria. Annual budgets have been increased several times throughout the year as needs evolve. In 2018 alone, a total of €35.3 million was allocated to cover the basic humanitarian needs of the victims of the crisis in Nigeria.
EU humanitarian aid also goes to the response to the worst lassa fever on record in Nigeria which is currently ongoing.
The European Commission has developed a joint humanitarian-development programme named the ‘Borno Package’, combining short and medium-term outcomes. The aim is to build the resilience and recovery of conflict-affected populations in northeast Nigeria. This initiative links emergency aid with long-term development and is back by €224.5 million drawn from various financial instruments.
The European Commission also advocates for safe humanitarian access and an increased operational presence of humanitarian organisations on the ground so that more people in need can be reached. The European Commission upholds the importance of delivering humanitarian assistance in line with the basic humanitarian principles, and of having well-functioning civil-military coordination in place.