Nigeria, thousands of displaced people are unable to return to their homes

Since the Borno State Government decided to close the camps for internally displaced persons, in order to promote better living conditions, the number of displaced persons has increased dramatically



In the 2nd half of 2021, the Borno State Government, Nigeria, declared that Internally Displaced people (IDP) camps in the state would be closed and their inhabitants relocated. The move to shut down camps in the state by the end of December 2021 and relocate the IDPs was aimed at reducing the dependence on humanitarian aid and promoting better living conditions, dignity, stability and resilience among IDPs. But the decision was met with anxiety, fear, and disbelief. No humanitarian organization is allowed to distribute food and non-food Items in any newly resettled communities across the state.


In recent months, INTERSOS’ Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) team has received an unprecedented number of IDPs including returnees from the neighbouring countries. As the IDP camps in Maiduguri, the state Capital, began shutting down, their inhabitants started moving to other locations across the state. Overcrowding and its consequences such as spreading of diseases, exposure to exploitation and abuse, overstretched resources, and general discomfort, are among the challenges experienced in the camps we manage.


In the camps, INTERSOS guarantees access to essential services


In Banki camp alone, we are catering to 47,715 internally displaced persons (comprised of 13,977 households); of which, 2% (953) are returnees from Maiduguri who came in less than one month after the government started shutting down camps”, says Wakirwa Adamu (CCCM Camp Manager) in Banki. Our services as CCCM are integrated – WASH, health, nutrition, safes spaces for protection, food distribution as well as a complaints and feedback mechanisms. We coordinate the entire humanitarian activities and the work of other stakeholders to ensure even distribution and access to services across the camp” he adds.


One of the locations the IDPs who were relocated from Bakassi camp moved to was Monguno local government area (LGA) where INTERSOS manages 6 out of 12 camps. “As of 10th December, 2021, INTERSOS/UNHCR CCCM Monitoring Team tracked a total of 2,031 households (12,486 individuals) says Luke Eghire, an INTERSOS CCCM Camp Manager in Monguno. Due to the fragile and volatile security situation in some of the locations like Guzamala and Marte LGAs, where some IDPs were supposed to return to, many preferred to stay in Monguno LGA which has 12 wards out of which only one is accessible – Monguno Central.


Most of the displaced indigenes from Monguno Central Ward were directly integrated into the host communities. Returnees from 11 wards in Monguno (inaccessible as a result of the protracted insurgency) stayed in Fulatari and Water-Board Extension IDP camps with makeshift shelters after SEMA (Borno State Emergency Management Agency) and LGA authorities helped with some land-space. We are also working closely with other partners and community members to prevent discrimination and support their integration.


The needs of the displaced population are very high


In a meeting with the recently relocated IDPs, they pointed out that there was the need for shelter, food, water, latrines, dignity kits, and medicines, in addition to the needs peculiar to women and children, to mention a few. “Over 2,000 shelters and Non-Food Items (NFIs) are needed to protect and improve the dignity of life of the returnees; this is in addition to the need for over 2,500 hygiene kits. 70% of the shelters are makeshift which need reinforcement due to the harsh and windy harmattan season. Additionally, many families are not able to benefit from food interventions, as they have been put on hold”, narrates Luke.


Between the 3rd and 10th of December 2021, there has been a sharp increase in the number of persons moving into Monguno. As the numbers continue to increase, there is a grave need for Water Sanitation and Hygiene facilities (WASH). Some of the returnees are gradually practicing open defecation especially in Fulatari IDP Camp, due to lack of latrines and showersAdequate measures need to be in place to support IDPs safe, dignified return, while protecting their human rights.

Flavia Melillo
Flavia Melillo