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Nigeria: 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan


Last year was a challenging year for vulnerable people in north-east Nigeria, and also for those providing them with much-needed humanitarian assistance. It was a year of escalating violence, increased access and security challenges, as well as a decline in humanitarian funding. It was also a year of a new reality, the COVID-19 pandemic, not just through the medical impact but also having acute socio-economic consequences.

The violence caused by the protracted conflict in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states have intensified. The vast majority of attacks are directly targeted at innocent civilians, who are trying their best to survive in an extremely volatile environment. The past year has seen some of the most horrific violations against civilians during the conflict. Countless women, girls, boys and men are caught in a crisis that is not of their making. They are faced with excruciating choices, putting their lives and futures at risk as they try to obtain meager means of survival.

Many are deeply distressed, such as Fatima, who told me the horror she witnessed when her community was attacked near Zabarmari last November. Despite the unspeakable cruelty of the assault that she survived, and her fears of venturing out of the relatively safe perimeters of her village, she admitted of having no choice but to continue taking the risk of attending to her family’s field. She would otherwise face terrible hunger.

Humanitarian workers are at risk every day. Our colleagues in the field are consistently under threat, discouraged to see their endeavours to improve people’s lives not making lasting progress. They make remarkable efforts when risking their lives to save others. No day passes without my thoughts going to those who have lost their lives in this crisis, and to the four colleagues who are still held in captivity by non-state armed groups. These brutal attacks - on civilians, our colleagues, and the humanitarian infrastructure that keeps millions of people alive - must end.

Insecurity, movement restrictions caused by the ongoing violence, and the new challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic have not eroded the commitment of the UN, NGO and government partners to stand by the people affected by the crisis in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states. I am every day humbled by the efforts of our partners.

We have provided life-saving assistance to over 5 million people in the past year. Malnutrition was averted for over 2 million children. Over 3 million people benefitted from health services, and humanitarian organisations stepped up to protect the most vulnerable people from the new corona virus. Despite these considerable achievements, vital needs for food, water and health services have dramatically increased over the past months.

This greater fragility has undermined the progress of our collective efforts over the years. While humanitarian needs are at the highest levels recorded since the beginning of the crisis, resources for urgent assistance are increasingly stretched, and the possibility of our actions even more restricted. Funding for humanitarian action in north-east Nigeria is at its lowest level.

The crisis in north-east Nigeria remains one of the most acute in the world today. Saving lives and protecting civilians must have a higher priority on the international community’s agenda. Nigerian authorities are committed to play a leading role in improving the living conditions and well-being of people in the north-east. The commitment of the authorities is unwavering to help people lift themselves out of the dire conditions and into a better future. Opportunities for solid partnerships with authorities and local communities are unprecedented. The imperative for acting swiftly together in response to the spread of the deadly coronavirus has strengthened our collaboration and opened new doors for innovative and local solutions.

The COVID pandemic has changed how we work, striving to keep staff and affected people safe. Limited resources means that we need to be smarter, including better prioritization of activities, innovation – through seeking greater efficiencies in service delivery, as well as being more responsive to what people need. We must seek longer-term or durable solutions, where there are opportunities, to ensure that people can start rebuilding their lives.

There can be no more ‘business as usual” in north-east Nigeria. It is only by working together to localize and adapt our actions to the immediate needs of the affected people, and paving the way for their long-term aspirations to be realized that we will be able to curb the trend of rising needs to build solid foundations towards a better and safer future.

Saving lives and providing aid to the most vulnerable people remains our immediate and most urgent priority. However, humanitarian assistance can only be a temporary solution. The time is ripe for all actors, including authorities, communities, development partners and the private sector to renew their commitment to working together; to provide alternative and longerterm solutions to people who, like Fatima, are struggling every day.

I am grateful to our partners for their tireless efforts to alleviate suffering and save lives. At the same time, our work would not be possible without the unstinting commitment of our donors who have stood with the people of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states in their time of need. Their unwavering support will enable us together to save, protect and improve even more lives in 2021. I strongly believe that, together, we will make an even greater difference in the lives of those who need us most this year.

Edward Kallon

Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria
Operation(s)/Espace(s) web: 
Bureau de la coordination des affaires humanitaires des Nations Unies
Date de publication initiale: 
03 mar 2021
Type de document: 
Plan de Réponse Stratégique
Coordination Inter-Clusters
Bureaux de coordination: 
Adamawa State
Borno State
Yobe State
Nigeria: Complex Emergency - 2014-2021