In Northeast Nigeria, 8.7 million people require humanitarian aid. The COVID-19 pandemic came at a time of worsening security and growing humanitarian needs. According to the latest Cadre Harmonisé, 4.4 million people there could struggle to eat during the lean season (June-August 2021) without humanitarian assistance. A recent study shows that the conflict resulted in 350,000 deaths, with 314,000 due to indirect causes. Violence has led to widespread forced displacement and acute violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.
There are various components to the crisis in Nigeria: (i) insurgency in the Northeast, (ii) surging banditry violence in the Northwest, (iii) incessant inter-community conflict in the Middle Belt, and (iv) a growing Cameroonian refugee population in the South.
The ongoing conflict between non-state armed groups and government forces in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states in the northeast, in its 12th year, has resulted in acute humanitarian needs:
Due to the hostilities, aid workers cannot reach 1.2 million people in the northeast. These constraints hinder the delivery of life-saving assistance, crucial in view of the alarming levels of food insecurity and COVID-19.
Humanitarian aid workers continue risking their lives to deliver aid, based on the humanitarian principles, to those in need. In 2019, 12 humanitarian workers were executed by non-state armed groups and 4 others killed in 2020 with frequent security incidents against humanitarians.
The European Union is one of the leading contributors of humanitarian aid in Nigeria. We provide immediate assistance to cover the basic needs of the most vulnerable internally displaced people and host communities in the country. The EU also supports refugees in other countries affected by the conflict in Nigeria, namely Cameroon (Far North region), Chad (Lake region), and Niger (Diffa region).
Since 2014, the EU has provided more than €340 million to help people in need in Nigeria, including the €52 million funding allocated in 2021. Part of this funding will be used to address food insecurity. EU humanitarian aid in Nigeria helps to meet the basic needs of the conflict-affected people by supporting emergency food aid, shelter, access to clean water, hygiene and sanitation, basic primary healthcare, protection and education.
The EU currently funds food assistance in the form of cash transfers, vouchers and food rations for families, ready-to-use therapeutic food, and essential medicines to treat severely malnourished children.
To facilitate humanitarian access to people in need, the EU supports the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) that enables aid workers to reach isolated areas.
Given the special protection needs of women and children that arise in conflict situations, apposite community-based services receive EU funding. The aim is to provide the necessary psychosocial support and referral services to unaccompanied children, victims of gender-based violence, and to help former child soldiers released from armed groups to reintegrate in society. Among the EU-funded actions are also projects that give children trapped in humanitarian crises a basic education alongside essential school supplies.
The EU is supporting preparedness initiatives in disaster-prone areas in Nigeria. These help vulnerable people better prepare for and reduce the impact of recurring natural hazards, such as epidemics and floods. Through these projects, communities receive essential information about risks and prevention. This strengthens the local response through planning and preventive actions.
In addition, the European Commission is providing €100 million in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of vaccination campaigns in countries in Africa with critical humanitarian needs and fragile health systems. €10 million out of this funding will be supporting vaccination campaigns for the most vulnerable in West and Central Africa.
Beyond trying to meet immediate humanitarian needs, joint efforts with development partners are required to help build long-term resilience. Nigeria is an EU pilot country for projects bringing together humanitarian, development and peace-building dimensions to address the needs of vulnerable people and offer them social protection through a more long-term and holistic approach.
Through its development assistance, the EU aims to build long-term resilience in conflict-affected communities by addressing the underlying causes of violent conflict, supporting basic services and helping people to support themselves.