While the world is fighting a pandemic with most of us in the comfort of our homes, North-east region on Nigeria has been fighting the worst humanitarian crisis in the history of the world for some years now. The humanitarian situation that has now taken the form of a crisis in Nigeria is witnessing people dying every day from poverty, hunger and homelessness. Despite efforts and accolades delivered from various aid organisations across the globe, the crisis has deepened the humanitarian needs with the conflict in north-eastern Nigeria entering its 11th year. The crisis affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe have confronted an upsurge in violent mob attacks, bombings and life losses. The pandemic further worsened the situation in the country putting in risk the vulnerable sections of the population.
Nigeria, being the most populous country of Africa, made it extensively difficult to protect the people in the wake of corona virus pandemic considering the most conflict-affected areas had a very weak health system and the most vulnerable population. The over populous camps for internally displaced persons had a population of people riddled with malnutrition and adverse health conditions. In such a case, the corona virus pandemic posed as the biggest threat amidst the violence fragility to endanger the vulnerable sections including women, elder people, children and people with chronic health adversities. This called in for an urgent urge from the world to step in and send aid in the form of money, health assistance, advanced medicines and other basic facilities to protect the people of Nigeria from an ever-deepening crisis of humanitarianism. Despite the World Health Organisation and other aid organisations constant effort over the past few years, the condition of the country was standing to get worse every day.
In the most crisis affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, more than 10.6 million people are in dire need of life-saving assistance. This implied that all the life threatening hazards played out over the past few years leaving the people stranded and destitute. This remarkably high number was the highest since the initiation of coordinated humanitarian effort to save Nigeria and its people in 2015, with the number of people increasing by as much as 7 million each year since 2013. As can be seen from the data and current conditions, it is evident that the efforts of the humanitarian response didn’t on its own prove to be enough to save the in-crisis country of Nigeria. The number took another sharp turn towards the ceiling after the COVID-19 pandemic set foot in the country.
The devastating impact of the deepened humanitarian crisis on the citizens worsened as about a large percentage of health services in the country were destroyed and/or damaged as a result of the long playing conflict.
The camps of the most crisis affected states of Nigeria of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe have been over crowded because of high internal displacement in the country due to conflict bombings and dire health conditions. Just to throw in some statistics, about 1.9 million people in the country remain internally displaced throughout the years, seeking shelters in internally displacement camps with significantly poor resources. With the advent of pandemic and increase in conflict frequencies, more than 60,000 people in the first half of 2020 had to displace from their place of living, even for the second or third time.
These overly populous internally displacement camps makes it difficult for the people to follow social distancing norms and precautions of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially with every 4 out of 5 people living in these populated camps with temporary make believe shelter spaces. Not just that, homelessness also took a big hit during the year with more than 40,000 people sleeping without roof on their head. Under these adversities, the risk of contracting the virus multiplies exponentially and the endangerment of life because of the virus poses as an apparent possibility.
However, the restriction in world movement because of the pandemic also created problems for the humanitarian organisations because the supply of physical and financial aid to the people in need in the worst affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe became awfully difficult. Delays in cargo services and indirect contact with the people in need also added to the crisis as people in difficult situations had only external resources as their rescue resort, which the pandemic made a lot tougher. This challenged access due to the insecure environment played in favour of the deepened crisis.
About four-fifth of the vulnerable population constitutes of children and women, with huge impact being on there education, mental and physical health, and thus, their future. The vulnerability of these groups also adds to chances of abuse and exploitation. This, if continued, would ruin not only the present state of the country but also its future and a country suffering from a humanitarian crisis for some 11 years now cannot afford to lose its future human capital.
Humanitarian organisations, with help from some other world countries and organisations, jumped in to get in touch with local and state authorities to re-open schools and education centres in a restricted, protected environment to ensure that studies aren’t hampered during this time of crisis and emergency use of resources. The safe return of students, teachers and other concerned individuals was on top of the priority list, especially the most vulnerable.
The need for support and help required in Nigeria is at the twelfth hour and the Humanitarian country Team is calling in all partners to unite and serve to save the people of Nigeria from this long-running humanitarian crisis by working on removing any segment that might act as a hurdle in the way of Nigeria’s long term recovery in terms of growth, resilience and stability. The world health organisation in collective effort with aid organisations urged countries to save people’s lives, with only $12 needed per person a month to sustain an equitable life. After all, the world sure is one big family.