The International Organisation for Migration, IOM, says an upsurge in violent attacks in Northeast Nigeria has displaced 59,200 people in the last three months.
The UN migration agency warned in Geneva thatNortheast Nigeria displacement crisis had continued due to “increasedsophistication’’ of attackers.
The agency noted the armed extremists, notablyBoko Haram militants had contributed to a decade-long humanitarian crisis inBorno, Adamawa and Yobe, that had spilled over into the Lake Chad region.
“Since November, we have seen 59,200displaced,” IOM Nigeria’s Chief of Mission, Frantz Celestin said, noting thatin the last two years, “we have not seen that many people on the move.” The last two months of 2018 werealso marked by “an increased sophistication’’ of non-state armed groupsaccompanied by “an increased number of attacks and success in taking towns,”Celestin explained.
According to him, civilians continue to bearthe brunt of conﬂicts that have led to widespread forced displacement andviolations of international humanitarian and human rights law.
Since thestart of the crisis, more than 27,000 people have been killed in the three Northeasternstates, according to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs,OCHA, while thousands of women and girls have been abducted.
“Government efforts to drive back the non-statearmed groups that operate in the Northeast of the vast country have beenhindered by the Harmattan dust cloud, an annual phenomenon that sweeps acrossWest Africa from approximately November to March.
“In the town of Rann, which was attacked in January, nobody was spare in one assault.
“The MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières) clinic was burnt, the IOM hub was attacked, the UNICEF clinic was attacked, the WHO/ICRC’s compounds were attacked,” Celestin said.
He said amid ongoing insecurity, humanitarianaccess was limited, hampering the ability of aid agencies to assess needscomprehensively. Tens of thousands of civilians have fled into alreadyovercrowded camps, mainly in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno, the IOM officialadded.
“One ofour biggest issues in north-east Nigeria in addition to the security issues isthe access to land.
“We havea number of camps that are overcrowded, in fact, if we were to take all of thecamps together, we would have more than 249,000 people in camps that arecompletely congested, with Monguno (Borno) being the largest one of them.”
According to him, rumours of imminent attackare enough to convince communities to flee, as people have sought refuge inneighbouring countries of the Lake Chad region.
“There were a number of people who moved across a number of villages in Cameroon.
“Some of them were returned, they crossed the border and they were turned back. And for the recent (displacement), I don’t have the specific numbers. I have heard 30,000, but I have not been able to prove it.”