In northeastern Nigeria, a surge of attacks by non-state armed groups have caused massive displacement of civilians within the country and to neighboring Chad and Cameroon. The attack on military bases in Baga, followed by raids on Monguno, forced the evacuation of humanitarian workers for a few days, threatening assistance to vulnerable populations and displacing more individuals. This week, an attack in Rann caused an estimated 30,000 people to flee.
Action Against Hunger is working in Nigeria, Cameroon, and Chad to meet urgent needs of new arrivals, who join nearly 2.5 million people previously displaced and affected by the conflict – all of whom depend upon humanitarian aid for survival.
While the situation has not garnered much attention internationally, the crisis is far from a resolution.
“Civilians are paying the price of the violence. Their protection must stand as the key priority for all parties in the conflict,” says Shashwat Saraf, Country Director for Action Against Hunger in Nigeria. “Urgent humanitarian assistance should be provided to the newly displaced, while humanitarian assistance should continue to be provided to internally displaced people and to the host communities affected by the crisis. The latest 2019 data indicate that 3.6 million people are food insecure in the Lake Chad Basin.”
Nigeria: Scaling up to meet urgent needs
Since the attacks in Kukawa and Baga, our teams have responded to help newly displaced people in Monguno and Maiduguri.
“Some actors completely withdrew from Monguno at the time of the attacks for security reasons," explains Shashwat Saraf, “We kept some essential staff on the ground and then had a full team in a matter of a couple of days to support the newly displaced.”
Our teams have:
- Trucked clean water into the camps: between January 13-30, we brought in 569,600 liters.
- Provided food assistance to nearly 2,000 newly registered families -- an estimated total of more than 10,000 people.
- Handed out hygiene kits to 1,790 families, helping to prevent disease.
- Supported 600 families with children under five years old, pregnant and breastfeeding women through a supplementary feeding program
- Launched latrine construction in displacement camps to meet sanitation needs. Construction projects such as building latrines and shelters are a major challenge due to lack of space since displaced people are living in very congested areas with little room to set up proper infrastructure.
- Screened 90,480 children under five years old for malnutrition. Our teams have found a severe acute malnutrition rate of 1.5% and a moderate acute malnutrition rate of 26.44%.
- Expanded our primary health care outreach through our health centers and mobile health teams.
Chad: Managing public health
As of late January, 7,505 Nigerians who were forced to flee to Chad had been relocated to Dar Es Salaam Refugee Camp, adding to the 11,300 Nigerian refugees who have arrived since 2014. To prevent the spread of diseases like diarrhea, which can contribute to malnutrition, Action Against Hunger teams are distributing sanitation and hygiene kits. At the same time, we are educating people about hygiene and the problems with open defecation.
Our response in Chad, by the numbers:
- 2,068 families received emergency kits, which included flashlights, jars, buckets, soap, laundry detergent, and water purification tablets.
- Provided 440 women and girls with dignity kits to support menstruation needs.
- 5 hand pumps installed
Cameroon: Screening and Treating Malnutrition
As of late January, 30,000 Nigerians – the majority of whom are women, children, and the elderly – arrived in Cameroon, settling in makeshift nearby the village of Goura. Action Against Hunger has launched two mobile clinics to screen and treat children for malnutrition and to provide primary healthcare both to children, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers.
When our teams – including nurses, midwifes, health promoters, and community volunteers – detect a health problem, we treat children under five years old for malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and Acute Respiratory Infection. Our teams also provide healthcare for pregnant women and newborns. At the same time, we are working to prevent illness and improve health more broadly.
So far, as of January 28, our teams have:
- Screened 976 children under five years old
- Diagnosed 42 children with severe acute malnutrition and 78 cases of moderate acute malnutrition. These initial assessments were particularly worrying, finding a severe acute malnutrition rate of 4.3% -- more than double the World Health Organization’s emergency threshold – and a moderate acute malnutrition rate of 7.99%.
- Children found with severe acute malnutrition were immediately admitted for treatment.
Action Against Hunger is working in coordination with our partners and local authorities to ensure coverage of health problems among these refugees.
Action Against Hunger's response is supported by USAID, SIDA, ECHO, GAC, EU, OFDA, WFP in Nigeria, UNICEF in Chad and GAC in Cameroon.