Nigeria’s northeast is currently experiencing a significant humanitarian crisis, which has resulted from the on-going armed conflict between Boko Haram, the Nigerian military and the Multi-National Task Force. An estimated 10 million people are affected by the conflict that led to a state of emergency being declared in three northeastern states (Borno, Adamawa and Yobe). A process of return has been underway to areas the Nigerian military has recaptured from Boko Haram, but large areas remain too dangerous for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to return.
Boko Haram regularly engages in asymmetric warfare, i.e. Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and suicide bombings against civilian targets. Thus, in addition to the psychological scars, there are also physical remnants of the conflict. Mines and unexploded ordnance remain in areas of origin, and will continue to pose a threat to the lives and livelihoods of IDPs at the time of return, but also at present, further exacerbating the displacement crisis in the region.
The main drivers of the conflict are well known: economic and social disparities in northern Nigeria, and historical rivalries of a political, ethnic and religious nature. Boko Haram is only the latest manifestation of multiple grievances and political machinations in environmentally devastated Lake Chad region. Its bizarre and murderous so-called Islamist ideology has wrought a war of terror upon local people since 2009. Young boys, girls, and men and women have been recruited by Boko Haram, either through force, indoctrination, or the provision of financial incentives.
In addition to insecurity, other factors need to be addressed: lack of livelihoods and employment opportunities, particularly among youth in urban areas; poverty, inequality and disenfranchisement; weak accountability and service delivery by security providers; impunity and corruption; and limited space for youth to voice their concerns and play a positive role in society amidst this crisis.
The Danish Demining Group (DDG) has a joint programming with the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) in Nigeria.
DDG in Nigeria
DDG’s overall objective in Nigeria is to promote stability and resilience among those affected by displacement in northeastern Nigeria, in particular in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states. To achieve this, DDG is focusing its programming on three main priorities:
- Addressing the needs of youth at risk of dangerous migration, criminality and radicalisation
- Enhancing community safety, conflict mediation and security sector governance
- Reducing the risks associated with mines, Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) and IED
Mine/ERW/IED Risk Education
In October 2015, DDG initiated the delivery of emergency mine/ERW risk education to IDPs living in camps and host communities in Adamawa state in order to reduce the likelihood of deaths and injuries resulting from explosive hazards in areas of transit and return. In parallel, DDG carried out an initial assessment on mine/ERW in Adamawa and Borno states in order to gather data about the nature and scope of contamination.
With support from UNICEF, DDG is now delivering a multi-faceted risk education campaign for IDPs in Borno state prior to their return to high risk zones. An expansion into Yobe state is scheduled for later in 2016, along with plans to:
- Conduct a baseline Knowledge, Attitudes and Practice (KAP) survey in order to inform the design, implementation and monitoring of risk education.
- Carry out an IED risk assessment to identify the nature of the threat to civilians and humanitarian workers
- Develop mine/ERW and IED risk education materials and communication strategies
- Deliver mine/ERW risk education for IDPs and humanitarian workers
- Build mine/ERW and IED risk education capacity of community focal points, local authorities and local networks
- Provide technical support for MRE strategy development to UN focal points and the Government
- Strengthen state injury surveillance systems for mine/ERW incidents
Community Safety and Conflict Mediation
DRC/DDG’s approach to armed violence reduction in Nigeria – and in the West Africa region – puts community members at the heart of its interventions. To promote stability and resilience among those affected by displacement in northeastern Nigeria, DDG plans to facilitate:
Community Safety Planning
DDG will strengthen social cohesion and resilience to insecurity by building community safety. DDG will work with host community members and IDPs to develop and implement community safety plans to enable community members to work together to identify, develop and implement solutions to their own safety needs.
Community-Security Providers Dialogue
In order to re-establish trust and collaboration, DDG works with community and security providers to facilitate fora through which security providers and civil authorities can explain their roles/mandates, while community representatives can discuss issues of concern related to their safety.
Conflict Management and Mediation
In response to feelings of mistrust and tensions between IDPs, host communities and camp officials, DDG will also strengthen the capacity of IDPs and host communities to peacefully manage and mediate conflicts in order to promote stability and social cohesion and develop a community-based mediation network in target communities.
DRC/DDG will mitigate and reduce the effects of youth displacement, dangerous migration and involvement in violent crime, political violence and extremism, as part of overall efforts to promote stability. For DRC/DDG targeting youth is especially relevant because:
- Youth programming is necessary for preventing further conflict (as youth for example are often used as the armed wing of conflict) and preventing displacement.
- Youth often have special needs for protection from further vulnerability in order ensure a positive future and promote durable societal solutions to conflict and displacement related issues.
DDG will address the different vulnerabilities that youth in this context face by focusing on:
- Facilitating cross-generational and inter-faith dialogue among youth and other members of their community in order to improve collaboration, trust and social cohesion
- Developing youth empowerment plans which promote youth engagement in their community by enabling target youth to consider and actively address the challenges that inhibit the realisation of their goals and visions.
- Creating safe recreational spaces for youth providing psycho-social support group activities and the possibility to organise cultural, dance and other events which provide them with creative outlets through which they can express themselves.
- Developing youth role models and leaders in order to address feelings of alienation and dislocation from society
- Strengthening the conflict management and mediation capacity of youth
DRC/DDG’s Presence in Nigeria
DRC/DDG is currently operational in Adamawa in the following Local Government Areas: Yola North and South, Mubi North and South, Hong, Girei, Michika, and expanding to Madagali. In addition, DRC/DDG has an office in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, and will be establishing a presence in Yobe state later in 2016.
For more information on the Danish Refugee Council in Nigeria: /where-we-work/central-and-west-africa/nigeria