The crisis in Northeast Nigeria has reached an inflection point. Widespread famine no longer appears imminent, and the Nigerian military has pushed Boko Haram out of a number of cities and towns. However, the humanitarian crisis is far from over, and major challenges remain in responding to the needs of the internally displaced. At the same time, Nigerian officials are pressing for large-scale returns of the displaced to recently liberated areas—often before conditions can legitimately support returns. The Nigerian government should pause organized returns to insecure areas and work with the international community to improve services and protection for the displaced, while setting the stage for sustainable pathways home. In addition, the government must work to support local integration for those who may never return home.
As U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson embarks on a multi-nation trip to sub-Saharan Africa, Refugees International delivered a letter to the secretary urging the Trump administration to use this critical opportunity to reaffirm U.S. humanitarian support, while advocating for policies that promote the safety, dignity, and rights of refugees and displaced populations in the sub-Saharan region. In the letter, Refugees International President Eric Schwartz underlines the urgent challenges in Nigeria and Kenya in particular, stating that swift action is needed by the U.S. administration to address ongoing humanitarian and displacement crises in those nations.
When the militant group Boko Haram took over in 2013, the majority of Bama, Nigeria's population those fled and have yet to return. Nigerian forces successfully recaptured Bama in 2015, and, recently, the city has become the focus of highly publicized reconstruction plans and along with plans for the return of its former residents. But the security situation in surrounding areas remains perilous. With approaching Nigerian elections in 2019, the government wants to return people to Bama, but security and stability should dictate returns, not politics.
Responding to the current global refugee crisis, the UN General Assembly in September 2016 convened a special meeting to examine the effectiveness of the international community’s response to mass movements of people. That meeting lead to two important outcomes, with the third - the Global Compact on Migration - still pending. Jeff Crisp argues that the formulation of a Global Compact represents an invaluable opportunity to reassess, revise and reinvigorate the international community’s efforts to protect and find solutions for the world’s refugees.
This was a year of new beginnings and the start of an exciting opportunity as I took on the leadership of Refugees International. But as I begin this gratifying new chapter of my own professional life, I am fully aware that for millions of refugees and displaced people around the world, 2017 was a devastating year.
On July 18, 2017, Refugees International President Eric Schwartz testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Multilateral International Development and Multilateral Institutions at a hearing, titled, "The Four Famines: Root Causes and a Multilateral Action Plan." In his testimony, Schwartz focused on the factors leading to famine conditions in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, and Nigeria.
As 43 organizations working on humanitarian and development issues in some of the world’s poorest countries, we write to ask for your support in providing an additional $1 billion in supplemental funding for fiscal year 2017 in order to adequately respond to famine and famine-like conditions across four countries.
J. Peter Pham, Vice President for Research and Regional Initiatives and Director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council, and Michel Gabaudan, President of Refugees International, discuss with host Carol Castiel what is being dubbed the greatest humanitarian crisis since 1945, as conflict exacerbates famine in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Northern Nigeria.
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On Friday, the governments of Germany, Nigeria, and Norway, along with the United Nations, are hosting the Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. The objective is to focus political attention on Africa's biggest humanitarian crisis, as well as to generate financial contributions to respond to urgent humanitarian needs.
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FREED FEMALE BOKO HARAM CAPTIVES RELIANT ON 'SURVIVAL SEX’ FOR FOOD: REPORT
BY CONOR GAFFEY ON 4/21/16 AT 10:23 AM
Nigerian women freed from Boko Haram captivity are prostituting themselves for food and overdosing on cough syrup due to inadequate provisions in government-run camps, according to a report.
Boko Haram’s armed insurgency in northeast Nigeria, which began in 2009, has killed thousands and displaced more than 2 million people. The militant group has targeted women and children for abduction, with Amnesty International estimating in April 2015 that the group had kidnapped at least 2,000 women and girls since the start of 2014. In March 2015, Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the Islamic State militant group (ISIS).
A report by U.S.-based humanitarian group Refugees International (RI) released on Wednesday claims that the Nigerian government—in cooperation with the international community and humanitarian agencies—was failing to meet the needs of women who had suffered gender-based violence (GBV) at the hands of Boko Haram. Around 8 percent of the 2.2 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in northeast Nigeria live in camps run by government agencies, with the rest living in host communities, according to the International Organization for Migration.
The RI report, based on a mission to the Borno state capital Maiduguri—where the majority of IDPs are based—found that rehabilitory assistance for victims of GBV was completely lacking. The report states that “zero percent of GBV survivors received specialized care or integrated services,” such as psychosocial counselling.
Women subjected to sexual violence by Boko Haram are often stigmatized by host communities, particularly if they have been impregnated by their captors. The lack of mental health support has forced women and girls to turn to alternative means of easing their pain—the report found that the price of cough syrup in the camps had more than doubled from 60 naira ($0.30) to up to 200 naira ($1) due to the demand by people drinking bottles of the medicine in order to fall asleep.
Female IDPs are also turning to “survival sex” in order to gain access to food, which is in short supply in the government run camps, according to the report. In one camp, there were three cooking points for a population of 6,000 IDPs. This food shortage forces women, according to the report, to sell their bodies in order to get food or money to buy food. The issue has previously been highlighted by Borno state governor Kashim Shettima, who vowed in September 2015 to sack any government officials found to be diverting foodstuffs meant for the IDPs.
The Borno State government has reportedly claimed to spend at least 600 million naira ($3 million) on feeding IDPs each month. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari pledged in December 2015 that thereturn of displaced persons to their home communities would begin in 2016, imploring the international community for additional assistance in addressing the issue. The United States recently pledged to give $40 million in humanitarian assistance to help people affected by Boko Haram in Nigeria and other countries bordering Lake Chad.
It has been two years since the world’s deadliest terrorist organization – Boko Haram – abducted 271 girls from their high school in the town of Chibok – a tragedy that would shine much needed international attention on conflict in northeastern Nigeria. Sadly, the Chibok girls are only one part of a much larger story of violence against women and girls in the northeast. But the attention on this remote corner of the Sahel has not translated into sustained humanitarian assistance for all those that have been affected.
I met Amara earlier this week in the office of a local grassroots organization in Borno state’s capital, Maiduguri. Amara, a pretty, cherub-faced girl, was accompanied by her mother with whom she had been reunited just six weeks prior, after a one year-long separation. Their separation was not voluntary. Over a year ago, Amara had been abducted by Boko Haram when they attacked her village of Baga.
Since 2009, Boko Haram insurgents have been terrorizing civilians in northeastern Nigeria. The group gained international notoriety when they abducted hundreds of girls from a school in Chibok, in Borno State, and over the years has abducted thousands of men, women, boys, and girls to use as soldiers and sex slaves. An estimated two million Nigerians have been displaced as a result of Boko Haram’s campaign of terror.
I am in Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria’s northeastern Borno State, and the home to approximately 1.6 million people who have been displaced by the terrorist group Boko Haram. For the past few days, I have been meeting with some of those displaced, and hearing their stories of the attacks that forced them to flee.
Since the Islamist insurgency group Boko Haram began scaling up its attacks on civilians, an estimated 1.3 million Nigerians have been internally displaced and at least another 150,000 have taken refuge in neighboring Chad, Niger, and Cameroon. The exodus of Nigerians fleeing the country’s northeastern region for government-sponsored camps or host communities has intensified the pressure on already scarce natural resources.