By Chioma Umeha
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has again raised the alarm over the plight of 6.9 million internally displaced persons in the North East Nigeria and called for more aids for them.
The UN body in its report for October pointed out that humanitarian crisis in north-east Nigeria remains severe due to renewed conflicts, continued internal displacement and the unpredictable return of refugees from neighbouring countries.
According to UNOCHA in October alone, about 4,000 Nigerian refugees returned from Neighborhood Niger Republic with new arrivals recorded in Gwoza (1,749), Kukawa (498), Ngala (374) and Dikwa (250).
Subsequently, humanitarian organisations mobilised to immediately provide shelter and non-food items to the newly-arrived, with support from the rapid response mechanism in some locations.
From the report, more suicide bombings and attacks on civilians have continue to be a major source of concern.
In October alone the report showed at least there were seven person-borne explosive device attacks in Borno State.
The most significant incident happened on October 22, when a coordinated attack by two suicide bombers in the outskirts of Maiduguri killed about 20 civilians and injured a dozen others.
Attacks equally continued In rural areas where about 25 incidents were reported in the southern and eastern parts of Borno State: various villages were looted and/or set ablaze, and at least 20 women were abducted again in the Chibok and Damboa local government areas (LGAs).
Nevertheless, humanitarian operations were reportedly continuing with the containment of the cholera outbreak in Maiduguri, Monguno, Dikwa and Mafa with the combined efforts of local government and various sectors, in particular Health and Water, Sanitation
In addition, with the start of the dry season, humanitarian organisations have regained access to locations that had been inaccessible due to flooding for several months, in particular Ngala and Rann.
The dry season has also allowed the work on “deep field” humanitarian hubs to accelerate and, to date, five out of the nine planned hubs are complete and the remaining four are expected to be fully operational by early 2018.
The hubs offer secure accommodation and internet connectivity for aid workers and are instrumental in supporting effective last-mile aid delivery and enhancing local coordination notes the report.
As the year draws to a close and in preparation of2018 planning and programming, part of the month of October was dedicated by sectors and humanitarian partners to carrying out in-depth joint needs assessments.
The findings are to feed into the Humanitarian Needs Overview and the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan, both of which are to be finalised by mid-December.
Some of the released preliminary results point to an improvement in agricultural production in the north-east (in particular for maize, millet and rice) and up to 10 per cent increase of the land under cultivation compared to 2016. However, while this will most likely translate into progress in the food security situation in the north-east throughout 2018, many areas remain inaccessible to farmers and pastoralists and humanitarian assistance will still be required for many the report concludes.