‘Boko Haram crisis getting worse’
The Nigeria Head of Mission of Medicine San frontier Mr. Luis Eguiluz believes the Boko Haram crisis in the Northeast is getting worse and the humanitarian needs are getting massive by the day.
Eguiluz,in an interview published on the MSF website said that over seven million people directly affected by the crisis are currently dependent on humanitarian aid for survival.
“After more than 10 years of conflict between non-state armed groups and the Nigerian military, the situation is only getting worse,” he said.
He added: “ The conflict is intensifying and the needs are massive. The United Nations estimates that there are more than two million people who have been displaced from their homes due to violence, and more than seven million who depend entirely on humanitarian aid to survive.
The most serious problem is that there are more than a million people living in areas controlled by non-state armed groups – humanitarian organizations do not have access to these areas, and the people living there do not receive any kind of aid at all.
“The conflict may be nothing new, but this crisis is extreme, and it is happening right now; in our projects we witness the impact that it has on human beings.”
His words: “The security situation has clearly deteriorated in recent months, and it is a challenge for humanitarian organizations to provide adequate assistance to the population. On the one hand, organizations face the risk of violence – unfortunately, the killings and abductions of humanitarian staff have increased in recent months – and because of this, the presence of aid is very limited outside the state capital, Maiduguri. On the other hand, counter-terrorism laws in Nigeria impose real limitations on humanitarian action and principles.
“In ‘garrison towns’ – towns controlled by the Nigerian military – there are still critical needs that are not covered, especially when it comes to healthcare, clean water, shelter and protection. In many cases, the population is totally dependent on humanitarian aid to survive.
“In the case of Pulka, the population has tripled since the beginning of the conflict and there isn’t enough farmland to cultivate. In addition, people cannot go beyond the town’s military perimeter. If they do, they run the risk of being attacked by non-state armed groups or being considered part of the armed groups by the Nigerian military. And outside the garrison towns, the needs are expected to be even higher since there are more than one million people that have not received humanitarian assistance since the beginning of the conflict.
“In our projects we run outreach programmes, which identify people who are more vulnerable and at risk of violence, exploitation or the loss of basic rights or services. Our first priority is to ensure medical care. “
Then, based on their needs we identify organizations that ensure access to appropriate assistance and services, such as child protection. This is especially important in the case of unaccompanied minors who reach these garrison towns. Often these children have experienced several episodes of violence, and may easily become victims to further abuse.”