Between January and June 2019, more than 60,000 people had to abdanon their homes to seek assistance and protection near the urban centers and the military positions of the regions of Tahoua, Tillaberi, Diffa and Maradi. The increasing violence of community conflicts and the systmatic targeting of civilians and vulnerable communities by the non-state armed groups active on the borders with Nigeria, Mali and Burkina Faso, are certainly the major causes for these movements.
More than 350,000 displaced people
The trend was already observable at the beginning of the year in the region of Tahoua, where the number of IDPs reached 18,131 between the months of January and February. About 23,000 IDPs are today registered in the region, with an increase of 6,000 people since the end of last year. In the Tillabéri region, the number of IDPs increased from 35,866 in December 2018 to 53,532 in March 2019.
This is a worrying increase considering that forced internal displacements are a relatively new phenomenon in these two regions, and that the first signs of it were registered only in January 2018.
By the end of last March, the urban communes of Diffa and Gueskerou experienced the gradual arrival of more than 28,000 people, including 9,000 Nigerian refugees, who had moved after attacks by non-state armed groups. against several villages in the south-east of the country. Among the 22 sites and neighborhoodshosting these people, the most populated are the site of Awaridi (9,000 people) in the urban district of Diffa and the site of Kindjandi (3000 people), in the commune of Gueskérou. This is the largest wave of people since the outbreak of the crisis in February 2015, when repeated attacks by armed groups triggered in few months the displacement of about 50,000 people and the declaration of the state of emergency in the region. On another hand, this is the first time that a significant proportion of these movements (more than 70%) concerns people who were already displaced and who therefore already lived in extreme conditions of vulnerability and precariousness. These people are now at their second or third evacuation. In December 2018, the Regional Department of Civil Status, Refugees and Migration (DREC) of Diffa had registered more than 248,000 displaced persons or refugees in the region, including nearly 119,000 refugees, 104,000 displaced and 25,700 returned. These communities represent today one of the most privileged targets for armed groups.
Recently, the deterioration of security at the border with Nigeria has also led to new cross-border movements of Nigerians to the Maradi region. About 20,000 refugees from Sokoto and Zamfara states in Nigeria arrived in the villages located between 500 meters and three kilometers from the border.
A worrying drop in funding
While humanitarian needs continue to grow, humanitarian funding are far from providing all the necessary means for an effective response. The Humanitarian Needs Overview for Niger estimates that about 2.3 million people will be in need of humanitarian assistance in 2019, including 450,000 internally displaced persons and refugees. Only 23% of the 383 million USD required for the implementation of the Humanitarian Response Plan has been received to date, with a funding rate that is among the lowest in the Sahel countries as a whole.
The trend observed over the last 5 years shows a gradual decrease of the funding while number of displaced people have continued to grow, with a critical impact on the needs of the country and on the humanitarian agenda. Last year, at this date, while the region of Tillabéry region was registering for the first time the arrival of 15,000 IDPs, the national Humanitarian Response Plan was funded only at 32%, with a much lower rate than in 2017, and yet, more effective than this year.
Humanitarians respond: an emergency plan
For longtime contingency stocks have enabled humanitarian actors to keep delivering the assistance, but the gradual depletion of these resources will soon leave the country without the necessary means to respond to new emergencies, while many households in the Tahoua regions, Tillabéry and Diffa have already remained for months without any assistance.
In response to this issue, the humanitarian community has sought to identify the immediate needs for the next six months as well as priority activities in the different intervention sectors. The cost of this emergency plan is 79 million USD and includes:
strengthening the rapid response mechanism for the initial response to displacement;
distribution of shelter and NFI for 16,500 households;
the pre-positioning of medico-notional inputs for 200,000 children in severe acute malnutrition;
food assistance and distribution of livestock and seeds for the lean season;
provision of drinking water points and latrines for 67,000 people;
the availability of mobile clinics and drug distribution for 420,000 people to prevent the spread of cholera epidemics and childhood diseases (PCIME);
construction and equipment of 800 temporary learning spaces and training for 1,560 teachers to ensure access to education for children.
Children make up half of all forced IDPs in the three regions.