By: Esan Bolaji
In Nigeria, 61 per cent of the 2.6 million people internally displaced are concentrated in Borno State, where most have settled in urban centres such as the capital, Maiduguri, the UN Refugee Agency, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stated.
The UN Refugee Agency made this known in its 2020 Global trends forced displacement report. The report analyses statistical trends and changes in global forced displacement from January to December 2020 among populations for whom UNHCR has been entrusted with responsibility by the international community.
According to the report, the largest regional increase in the number of refugees in 2020 was in West and Central Africa (+12 per cent). This was primarily due to the deepening crisis in the Sahel region and also in northern Nigeria.
An overcrowded camp for newly arrived internally displaced people in Maiduguri. Borno state, Nigeria, March 2020. © SCOTT HAMILTON/MSF
The Africa Center for Strategic Studies noted that Nigeria faces a range of destabilizing security threats. In the North East region, violent attacks by Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa have resulted in the displacement of 2.5 million Nigerians. Kidnappings, extortion, and organized criminal attacks in the North West have displaced an additional 800,000 people.
Also, the report noted that the internally displaced population grew by several hundred thousand in both Mali and Niger and continued to increase in Nigeria and the Central African Republic.
The Sub-Saharan Africa region continues to face a severe humanitarian crisis with widespread and indiscriminate violence by armed groups as well as rising social and political tensions, forcing more people to flee their homes.
In contrast, the Southern Africa region saw a 3 per cent reduction in the number of refugees due to verification exercises conducted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo affecting particularly the number of registered South Sudanese refugees.
On June 17, 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari arrived in Maiduguri, Borno State for a one-day official visit amidst tight security. The president, who is on the visit to assess the security situation in the North East, which is the theatre of insurgency and terrorist attacks, will address troops of Operation Hadin Kai at Maimalari Cantonment, and also inaugurate some completed Federal and State Government projects.
Despite repeated conflict and violence across parts of the country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo hosted nearly half a million refugees, mainly from neighbouring countries.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the climate emergency made the situation even more complex and volatile. Major flooding affected the Sahel region early in 2020 and was exploited by insurgent groups to expand their operations.
At the end of 2020, the total number of forcibly displaced people was 82.4 million, while the total population of concern to UNHCR stood at 91.9 million people.