The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has said a rise in violence in the North East has displaced over 59,000 people in the last three months, making it the highest displacement in recent years.
Chief of the United Nations (UN) Migration Agency, Mr. Frantz Celestin, said attacks by non-State armed groups in Nigeria have left relief workers unsure about the extent of needs among some communities.
Celestin said the terrorists have been applying “hit-and-run” tactics which have caused many more people to seek refuge in safer towns and neighbouring nations.
According to the agency, the armed extremists, notably Boko Haram, have contributed to decade-long humanitarian crisis in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, which spilt over into the Lake Chad region.
“Since November 2018, we have seen 59,200 displaced,”Celestin said, and added that in the last two years, “we have not seen that many people on the move.”
According to him, civilians continue to bear the brunt of conflicts that have led to widespread forced displacement and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.
Since the start of the crisis, more than 27,000 people have been killed in the three north-eastern states, according to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), while thousands of women and girls have been abducted.
He explained that the last two months of 2018 were marked by “increased sophistication” of non-State armed groups accompanied by “an increased number of attacks and success in taking towns.”
Speaking about the recent attack in Rann, Celestin said: “In Rann, which was attacked in January, nobody was spared in one assault.
“The MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières) clinic was burnt, the IOM hub was attacked, the United Nations Children’s Fund clinic was attacked, the World Health Organisation/ICRC’s compounds were attacked.”
Celestin said amid ongoing insecurity, humanitarian access was limited, which hampered the ability of aid agencies to assess needs comprehensively.
He noted that tens of thousands of civilians have fled into already overcrowded camps, mainly in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State.
“One of our biggest issues in (the) North East, in addition to the security issues is access to land. We have a number of camps that are overcrowded, in fact, if we were to take all of the camps together, we would have more than 249,000 people in camps that are completely congested, with Monguno (Borno) being the largest one of them.”
According to him, rumours of an imminent attack are enough to convince communities to flee, as people have sought refuge in neighbouring countries of the Lake Chad region.
“There were a number of people who moved across a number of villages in Cameroun. 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.”