With constant cross-border movements resulting in people who were refugees in neighbouring countries returning into Nigerian territory and persistent attacks by non-state armed groups (NSAGs) on civilian and IDP locations, the protection environment has become more volatile and concerning. The socio-economic impact of the protracted crisis on IDPs is getting more severe and becoming a factor for population displacement. COVID-19 emergency measures, including restriction of movement, exacerbate the vulnerability of the affected populations, making access to services more challenging. With access to livelihoods severely impacted, breadwinners are mostly unable to provide for their families, disrupting family configurations. There are reports of petty thefts across camps, further exerting pressure on IDPs who have limited access to resources and income-generating activities. Following the closure of official border entry points, there are allegations of officials extorting people living in border areas including Damasak, Ngala and Banki who need access to markets on both sides. The consistent population movement especially into camps - where humanitarian aid and resources are already stretched - also comes with protection risks and vulnerabilities such as those arising from congestion and lack of resources. The lockdown also disrupted documentation services.
During the reporting period, community volunteers were engaged in disseminating risk communication messages and raise awareness on the risks of COVID-19 pandemic and the precautions and mitigation measures to be adopted. This was enhanced with protection mainstreaming of preventive and response measures. The Sector developed an advocacy note on regulating the excessive use of authority while enforcing lockdown measures on populations. The Sector also engaged in developing a guidance note on protection concerns in COVID-19 isolation centres and supported the CCCM Sector in developing the camps decongestion strategy. General Protection partners deployed additional personnel to the border areas of Borno State to support and facilitate the process of refugee returns as well as support in the isolation of those coming into the territory and subsequent entry into camps. Protection desks were equipped with IEC material on COVID-19, and innovations were made in adapting messages and services to virtual service provision and door-to-door dissemination of key messages. Protection monitoring also continued during the reporting period.
In line with its responsibility to build capacity for preparedness and response, the Protection Sector organized a series of Virtual Learning sessions to support the development of partners’ capacities in recognizing, understanding and responding to protection issues. Sessions on various protection related issues included Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE), Trafficking in Persons, Accountability to Affected Populations and Protection Monitoring, Housing, Land and Property, integrating GBV in humanitarian action, legal frameworks for protection of IDPs, durable solutions and Information Counselling and Legal Assistance (ICLA). The summary report on the Virtual Learning sessions can be read here.
Persistent attacks by NSAGs have triggered panic and safety concerns among civilian populations across camps and communities in Borno State. Fresh and multiple displacements are expected to persist on account of worsening insecurity in recent weeks, leading to an influx of new arrivals to already congested camps.
The dire socio-economic conditions of the affected populations require enhanced and coordinated response especially from Government. The lack of civil authorities in the LGAs outside Maiduguri, Borno capital, continues to hinder access to services especially related to documentation. The Sector will continue to engage with Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) for awareness of protection challenges in NE Nigeria and also continue efforts and coordination with other sectors to mitigate resort to negative coping mechanisms by affected population due to ongoing restrictive measures enforced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Sector is also in the process of harmonizing protection monitoring tools which, when completed, will enable an integrated protection monitoring and analysis which will inform interventions.