During seven years of conflict in northeast Nigeria, over 26 500 people have been killed and 1.9 million remain internally displaced. A high level of insecurity continues to seriously hamper access and delivery of assistance, with urgent needs largely unmet. In 2018, 7.7 million people require humanitarian assistance. In the three most affected states, an estimated 3 million people are at risk of food insecurity and up to 940 000 children suffer from acute malnutrition, 440 000 of whom in its severest form.
In Africa’s most populous country, over 60% of the population live below the poverty line and have no access to health care, education or safe drinking water. Since the start of the conflict between the armed group Boko Haram and the State in 2009, violence has claimed the lives of thousands of civilians in northeast Nigeria and forced millions of people to flee and become internally displaced. While some have found shelter with relatives, the majority of internally displaced people live in precarious conditions in informal settlements and mostly rely on support by local communities and aid organisations. Ongoing hostilities result in further displacement: more than 160 000 people are estimated to have been newly displaced since October 2017. In July 2018 alone, over 31 000 new arrivals were registered, 67% from areas currently inaccessible by humanitarian organisations.
High rates of acute malnutrition - well beyond the emergency threshold - and worrying food insecurity levels remain a key humanitarian concern. Furthermore, 823 000 people remain in areas to which humanitarian organisations have no access.
In addition, due to inadequate hygiene and sanitation, Nigeria is regularly affected by epidemics such as cholera, lassa fever, polio, meningitis, and measles.
The European Union provides immediate assistance to cover the basic needs of 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.
Humanitarian aid goes to food distributions through in-kind or cash-based transfers, to clinics providing lifesaving nutrition treatment and primary health care, as well as to ensure access to water and sanitation, hygiene, first-need items, shelter, and protection.
Several education projects are also funded by EU Humanitarian Aid to help keep children in school, during the school year but also at other times. This is done through Accelerated Learning Programmes and also in Child Friendly Spaces where educational and psychosocial support helps children recover from trauma.
EU aid also contributes to increased access to people in need, for instance through the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service that enables aid workers to reach otherwise remote and inaccessible areas.
Since 2014, the European Union’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department has allocated over €190 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 €48.3 million has so far been allocated to cover the basic humanitarian needs.
EU humanitarian aid also went to the response to the worst Lassa fever outbreak on record in Nigeria, which took place in the first semester of 2018, as well as to support to Cameroonian refugees arriving to southeast Nigeria.
The European Union advocates for safe humanitarian access and an increased operational presence of humanitarian organisations on the ground so more people in need can be reached. The EU underlines the importance of delivering humanitarian assistance in line with the basic humanitarian principles and of having well-functioning civil-military coordination in place.
The European Union has strengthened its joint humanitarian-development programming and is supporting projects in Borno and Yobé States which combine short and medium-term results. The aim is to build the resilience of conflict-affected populations and facilitate their recovery. This initiative links emergency aid with long-term development and is backed by €253.5 million drawn from various short-and longer-term financial instruments.