Nigeria has 3.3 million persons displaced by conflict – the highest number in Africa.
This information is contained in a report 'Global Overview 2014: people internally displaced by conflict and violence' released last week by the Internal Displaced Monitoring Centre (IDMC) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
"Violence, abuses, and forced evictions all add to the conflict-mix in many of these situations, while in places such as Nigeria we see how challenging life becomes for those already displaced by conflict when they are struck down again by severe floods and storms," said Alfredo Zamudio, Director of IDMC.
According to the report, there are 3.3 million IDPs in Nigeria and 470,500 individuals were displaced in 2013 alone. On a global scale, Nigeria is only ranked behind Syria with 6.5 million IDPs and Colombia with 5.7 million IDPs.
The report explains the unprecedented rise in IDPs in Nigeria last year by the increased number of Boko Haram attacks, heavy-handed counter insurgency operations, and ongoing inter-communal violence.
After Boko Haram insurgents were pushed out of major towns in the north-east following the declaration of a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states in May 2013, they focused their attacks with increased brutality on towns and villages close to Nigeria’s borders with Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
The increasing deadly attacks on border communities and the destruction of properties, businesses and farmlands have forced many inhabitants to flee to nearby towns and villages as well as into neighbouring Cameroon and Niger.
In 2014, the Islamist sect has killed about 2,000 people and more than half of those killed were civilians. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (UNOCHA), 300,000 people in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe – 70 percent of them women and children – have fled their homes since early 2013.
In March, residents of Mafa village in Borno fled their homes after receiving letters from Boko Haram warning them of impending attacks. When the attack eventually happened there were only the aged and those too weak to flee.
Besides, reprisal attacks on communities accused of sheltering Boko Haram insurgents by the Nigerian armed forces have also added to the number of displaced people in the northeast, the report notes.
Communal clashes is another factor contributing to the high number of displaced persons in Nigeria. Clashes between farmers and herdsmen over grazing lands in states such as Benue, Taraba, Zamfara and parts of Kaduna have left more than 1,000 people dead since last December, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.
"The violence has been almost on a daily basis in some places like Benue State and in a few other places you’ve had it almost on a weekly basis," said Mausi Segun, HRW Nigerian Researcher.
In April, NEMA set up 11 camps for over 100,000 people displaced in eight local governments in Benue State.
More than 300 people in the last 20 months were killed in attacks on villages in Zamfara State, the local government reported.
Also, many of the victims of the 2012 flooding caused by heavy rainfall across Nigeria are yet to be provided permanent place of residence. According to NEMA.The natural disaster in that year alone displaced over two million people.
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