The security situation across Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) states deteriorated significantly in October, marked by dozens of non-state armed group (NSAG) attacks and government forces counter-operations that affected civilian populations and impacted aid operations across locations. At least 49 civilians, including Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and farmers were killed in direct attacks and clashes in Borno State. Most of the civilians were either targeted while cultivating farmlands and fishing to support livelihoods or caught in crossfire during clashes which spiked in October after the new military counter-operation “Fireball” was launched. Aid assets including two operational vehicles and water storage facilities were severely damaged in one of these clashes in Damboa LGA on 25 October. Civilian commuters and aid convoys were also routinely targeted, robbed or looted at illegal vehicle checkpoints (IVCPs) across major highways and supply routes especially in northern Borno State. At least 40 IVCP incidents targeting civilians and aid assets were recorded in October (more than in August and September combined), mostly in Borno State.
Movement of aid cargos, particularly food trucks to field locations including Damboa, Bama, Ngala and Kala-Balge LGAs of Borno State remained difficult due to flooding along major routes causing severe shortages for affected populations across camps and host communities. Using alternative but longer routes and exploring cash and voucher assistance (CVA) modalities, humanitarian partners were able to reach over 80,000 people with critical assistance such as food and NFIs across some of the worst affected locations in Damboa and Bama LGAs. The Nigerian military also airlifted some 80 tons of food to IDPs in the border town of Rann, Kala-Balge LGA which has been cut-off from Nigerian side by flooding since June. The situation remains dire particularly in Ngala LGA near the Cameroonian border where over 100,000 IDPs and host community populations continue to face severe food shortages. Initial reports from an ongoing nutrition screening indicate increasing cases of malnutrition particularly among children.
Flash flooding from heavy downpour between 5-11 October ravaged several communities in Bade and Jakuso LGAs of Yobe State with some 5,000 people, mostly farming households directly affected. Hundreds of homes were submerged for several days with property, valuables and hectares of cultivated farmlands washed away. Partners supported government response through the provision of food and NFI kits, and also co-led rapid assessment of impacts to inform further scale up of assistance to affected populations and communities. In Borno State, partners continued to scale up water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) response, reaching some 10,000 vulnerable people with cholera prevention kits in densely populated communities in MMC and Jere LGAs, as part of efforts to prevent outbreak of waterborne diseases during the peak of the rainy season. Over 1,000 households whose shelters were destroyed or damaged by flooding and windstorm in Bama LGA of Borno received shelter repair and reconstruction kits in October.
Efforts by humanitarian partners to decongest the main IDP camp in Banki, Bama LGA suffered a major setback when some 500 newly constructed shelters in the camp extension area were vandalized. Influx of refugees returning from neighboring Cameroon has increased in recent months. Some 2,500 people, including women and children, are currently without shelters and either staying with relatives or in open spaces where they are exposed to harsh weather and other protection risks. Partners are intensifying advocacy with military high command and community leaders to address issues around the camp extension area.
In October, Borno State Government continued with unilateral relocations of IDPs to return areas despite ongoing insecurity. High-level advocacy by the humanitarian community stressed on the need for a principled and multi-stakeholder approach to civilian relocations. On 7 October, the state government inaugurated two committees to facilitate IDP relocations to Marte LGA and Ngoshe, Ashigashiya, Kirawa and Hambagda communities in Gwoza LGA all of which are still inaccessible to aid workers due to insecurity. A week later, on 15 October, some 760 IDP households were moved from Pulka to Ngoshe town. IDP relocations to Baga town, Kukawa LGA, also continued with more than 4,000 people moved from Teachers’ Village camp in Maiduguri on 14 October. Over 11,000 IDPs originally from Baga and living across camps and host communities in Maiduguri have been registered for relocation in the coming weeks. Baga IDP relocation which started in late September was marred by deadly NSAG attacks targeting government convoys between 25 and 27 September with at least 18 killed, further indicating unresolved security concerns. Initial reports from rapid assessment conducted by local NGO partners indicate severe conditions for returnees including lack of health facilities or medical staff, and limited WASH services and livelihood opportunities. Similar conditions prevail in Ngoshe town where critical facilities and infrastructure were still at elementary stages when IDPs were relocated.
Daily counts of new COVID-19 cases continued to drop across the BAY states during the month of October, with only 10 active cases at the end of the month. This is partly due to lower testing rates, according to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC). Aid actors intensified risk communication and awareness messaging including through mass media, community active case search, house-to-house enlightenment among others to encourage voluntary testing, timely reporting of suspected cases, and risk mitigation measures including use of masks and regular hand washing. Over 46,000 screenings were conducted at different points of entry (POEs) across BAY states, and travelers counselled on COVID-19 risks, symptoms, prevention/mitigation measures and steps to take in the event of suspected cases. Partners supported the decontamination and disinfection of isolation facilities across Yobe State. Implementation of preparedness measures including disinfection of classrooms, training of teachers/school managers and installation of WASH facilities in classrooms also continued in Borno State ahead of school reopening scheduled for 26 October. With the federal government projecting a spike and possible second wave of COVD-19 pandemic in the coming weeks and months, partners intensified advocacy with authorities and communities especially in Borno State on the provision of additional lands to decongest overcrowded camps and enable implementation of risk mitigation measures including social distancing.
Despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and access constraints due to worsening insecurity and flooding from heavy downpours, humanitarian partners reached 3.8 million people (up from 3.6 million in September) with multisectoral assistance across BAY states in October. However, funding for the Humanitarian Response Plan 2020 is at a historic low. As of end of October, only $450 million (42%) of the total $1.08 billion funding required to provide life-saving assistance to 7.8 million people had been received.