In March and April 2020, 52 incidents involving explosive ordnances (IEDs) were recorded, claiming the lives of 18 civilians and injuring 34 others. Landmines of an improvised nature remain the main threat and restrict safe freedom of movement, while civilians continue to be the main targets of attacks involving personal borne explosive devices (PBIEDs). The use of explosive weapons such as rockets in populated areas has also killed and injured civilians. Several incidents during this period are highly relevant for humanitarians travelling by road and working on the expansion of IDP camps. One incident involved a civilian driver who removed a stick on the road which was concealing an IED, triggering the detonation of the explosive and killing one man and injuring another.
This accident could have been prevented through Explosive Ordnance Risk Education. Another IED was found next to the corpse of a person killed by non-state armed groups. The explosive was fortunately removed safely without any injuries. Another incident involved an improvised landmine which was planted in a trench and killed cattle upon detonation. In addition, a herdsman died, alongside some of his livestock, when he stumbled upon an explosive device while grazing.
In March and April, Mine Action operators continued their efforts to encourage individuals to develop safe behaviour in relation to explosive devices and reached a total of 46,754 people through explosive ordnance risk education (11,810 girls; 14173 boys; 12,117 women; and 8,654 men) through 661 risk education sessions delivered to internally displaced persons, host community members, refugees and returnees in 16 Local Government Areas across Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.
The Mine Action Sub-Sector also continued to engage with the Federal institutions in charge of preparing a strategy to meet Nigeria’s obligations towards the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention to which the country is a party.
Due to physical distancing measures as part of COVID-19 prevention, Mine Action Sub-Sector partners have had to reduce the number of participants in Explosive Ordnance Risk Education sessions. As a result, fewer civilians are able to participate in risk education sessions to access life-saving messages.
The Mine Action Sub-Sector already faces difficulties in obtaining the funding necessary to meet 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan objectives. At the same time, it is critical to increase funding in order to scale up the capacity of Mine Action Community Liaison Teams and prevent mine action accidents. Additional capacity is also needed to conduct necessary Non-Technical Surveys (NTS) to check whether land, road and infrastructure are free from explosive hazards. NTS are particularly important in the scope of the Returns Strategy and decongesting IDP camps.
In addition, sub-sector partners are looking into alternative ways to ensure the continuity of risk education over time: the development of the Risk Education Talking Device and the development of local capacity at the NGO and institutional levels. The latter requires a strong commitment of Nigerian authorities towards the completion of their obligations especially under the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.