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Nigeria: People in north-east suffer effects of violence

22-08-2013 Operational Update

The displacement resulting from continuing violence in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states, north-eastern Nigeria, is having a significant humanitarian impact in Nigeria and neighbouring countries. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement remain geared up to provide aid for the displaced.

Thousands of people are being forced to flee the fighting between Nigerian security forces and armed groups in north-eastern Nigeria. While some people can take refuge in villages near their homes, others, especially nationals of neighbouring countries, are choosing to return to their home countries.

Several thousand displaced people have crossed the border into Niger to settle in the Bosso, Maïné Soroa, Goudoumaria and Diffa areas, in the easternmost part of the country, more than 1,300 kilometres from the capital Niamey.

Most are from Niger and had settled in Nigeria, in some cases for several decades already. They had to leave in great haste and leave all their belongings behind. Totally without resources, they are often taken in by host families. Their presence is a burden on an already struggling local economy.

"I left behind all my property when I fled. Everything I had set aside to feed my family was lost," said Kabo Moussa, a man from Niger who returned to the country. "We had to leave so quickly that there was no time to gather even the most basic essentials."

Nigerian, Chadian and Cameroonian nationals are also among the displaced arriving in Niger.

In Cameroon, the authorities have allowed a camp to be opened in Minawaou, in the north of the country some 65 kilometres from the border with Nigeria. Displaced people began to be transferred to the camp at the beginning of July with help from Cameroon Red Cross Society volunteers. There are reportedly more than 800 people currently in the camp.

More than 1,500 people are said to have crossed the border into Chad. The great majority, including almost 300 children who had been enrolled in Koranic schools in Nigeria, are Chadian. Their arrival has put extra pressure on a region where the inhabitants are also suffering from the loss of their traditional trade with Nigeria.

Emergency response of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement

Emergency supplies have recently been distributed by the ICRC with the help of Nigerian Red Cross Society volunteers to some 13,200 people in Borno state, Nigeria, who have been suffering the effects of violence.

"The Red Cross has given us what we need most – utensils for cooking and protection from the rain," said Fati, who lives in Bagadaza ward, in Baga. Blankets, clothing, mosquito nets and household and hygiene items have also been distributed.

In addition, nearly 5,000 people who had returned to, or taken refuge in, neighbouring Niger were given food and household items by the ICRC with the help of volunteers from the Red Cross Society of Niger.

In Niger, the influx of displaced people is adding more stress to the already stretched water supply. "There is not enough water for everyone," said Lawan Mustapha, a returnee. "We've been forced to drink water from Lake Chad. A single well is no longer sufficient for everyone."

In the Bosso area of Niger, the ICRC has upgraded seven wells in villages near the border with Nigeria. The effort to improve access to clean drinking water will continue over the coming weeks in both Niger and Nigeria.

The ICRC and its partners, the national Red Cross societies of Nigeria and the neighbouring countries, remain fully mobilized and committed to easing the suffering of people affected by the violence.

For further information, please contact:
Aleksandra Matijevic Mosimann, ICRC Abuja, tel: +234 94 61 96 13 or +234 703 595 41 68
Oumarou Daddy Rabiou, ICRC Niamey, tel: +227 96 66 99 12 or +227 90 43 43 04
Wolde-Gabriel Saugeron, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 31 49 or +41 79 244 64 05


An elderly person receives emergency supplies from the Red Cross. 

Baga, Borno state, north-east Nigeria.
An elderly person receives emergency supplies from the Red Cross. The ICRC and Nigeria Red Cross are helping people affected by armed violence in the north-east of Nigeria. Some people have lost their houses and most of their belongings; mosquito nets and shelter materials will help them get through the rainy season.
© ICRC / R. Muriungi / v-p-ng-e-00478

The ICRC distributes emergency aid, assisted by the Nigeria Red Cross Society.  

Baga, Borno state, north-east Nigeria.
The ICRC distributes emergency aid, assisted by the Nigeria Red Cross Society. Over 13,000 people affected by armed violence in north-east Nigeria received shelter materials, bedding, mosquito nets, clothes, hygiene supplies and cooking utensils. An estimated 45% of the people assisted are women, many of them elderly or widowed.
© ICRC / R. Muriungi / v-p-ng-e-00479