Ten years since the beginning of a violent insurgency in northeast Nigeria, the living conditions for displaced people are continuing to deteriorate at an alarming rate due to inadequate and overcrowded facilities. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) calls for increased efforts to improve their living conditions and prevent an imminent cholera outbreak.
Ten years after the first attack launched by the armed group Boko Haram, more than two million people remain displaced from homes in northeast Nigeria, the highest number of any time over the last decade.
“Every week, people continue to flee violence and insecurity in northeast Nigeria. Many settle along the roadside or on empty strips of land, devoid of proper sanitation and water points,”
says Eric Batonon, Country Director at the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Nigeria.
Hundreds of thousands of people are living in overcrowded displacement sites far below international minimum standards and without proper access to latrines and clean water. Some have put up shelters made of wooden sticks and pieces of ripped fabric. These improvised shelters provide no protection against wind or rain and offer almost no privacy or security. Many don’t even have a door – leaving women, men and children highly vulnerable to intrusions and attacks.
More than 180,000 people are currently in need of shelter in Borno State with many sleeping in the open or in deplorable makeshift homes. As the rainy seasons gets underway, fears of another deadly outbreak of cholera are looming. Last year, 10,000 cholera cases were confirmed along with 175 recorded deaths, although the real figure is likely to have been much higher.
“People in Nigeria need safe pathways back to their homes and much better living conditions in the meantime. Displacement sites are dangerous, chaotic and entirely unsuitable for children. It is critical to decongest these overcrowded sites, provide people that have been forced to flee with safe, dignified facilities and prevent another deadly cholera outbreak,”
The NRC is calling on donor countries to increase their financial support for relief to families trying desperately to survive in one of the world’s most volatile regions.
“Ten years on, it is harrowing to see families still crowding into make-shift shelters with inadequate drainage systems to remove rain water. The global humanitarian community, local and national authorities have to do much more and much better to improve the lives of these people,”
says Batonon before concluding:
“The world needs to scale up the relief work and send a message of hope to the more than seven million people in need of humanitarian assistance in northeast Nigeria. After a decade of conflict, we need to show them that they have not been forgotten.”