Northeast Nigeria: Operations Update, December 2020 – Nigeria

Over 10,000 displaced people have been screened for security vulnerabilities in the states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.

UNHCR reached over 68,000 internally displaced, internally displaced and returnees in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states through project monitoring and site visits.

3,800 beneficiaries were visited at circuit breakers, where they received multilingual information on COVID-19 prevention.

Operational highlights

  • In December northeastern Nigeria continued to witness intense attacks by non-state armed groups (NSAGs). Several families came to Nigeria after an attack in Toumour, Republic of Niger on December 12, 2020. As of December 31, 2020, 150 Nigerian refugees had come to Damasak from Niger. In addition, 10 Nigerian asylum seekers were registered.

  • In the state of Borno, an NSAG attacked farmers on their farmland on December 3, among other things to steal food during the harvest. On November 28, around 40 NSAG farmers were killed in the village of Zabarmari on the outskirts of Maiduguri, the state capital.

  • In northern Borno in particular, illegal checkpoints on the streets have become a daily practice for the NSAG. In the first week of December alone, 17 such illegal vehicle checkpoints were installed in 4 LGAs (Local Government Areas), which enable NSAG actors to rob valuables and vehicles and to kidnap or injure some passengers. An estimated nine people were kidnapped, including drivers and humanists. In addition, an INGO vehicle was robbed in Damasak and the hired driver was kidnapped.

  • In Adamawa state, the NSAG stepped up its activities with an increase in armed conflict and criminal activity, particularly in the Gombi LGA, where they attacked the city of Garkida, burning land, abducting some people and killing others.

  • In the state of Yobe, the NSAG’s ongoing terror campaign, mainly around the Gujba, Geidam and Gulani axes, continued to cause displacement, tensions between shepherds and farmers and increasingly threatened the fragile social coexistence in the Goniri, Gotala Gotumba and Kukareta return communities.

  • Although the official entry points remained closed due to COVID-19 prevention measures, cross-border movements were recorded at the four entry points monitored by the UNHCR and partners in Banki, Damasak, Ngala and Pulka. 2,851 people, the majority of women and girls, moved to Nigeria and back, with 49% of the population registered in Banki, 40% in Damasak, 8% in Ngala and 3% in Pulka. Nigerians made up 80% of the recorded movements, the rest were Cameroonians. The main drivers of movement during this period were family visits (37%), spontaneous returns from countries of asylum (17%), employment opportunities (16%), and displacement due to riot and counterinsurgency (11%). Other triggers included access to services in camps in Nigeria, seasonal migration and COVID-19 fears.

  • In the BAY states (Borno, Adamawa and Yobe), several internal evictions continued to be recorded, particularly in camps and host communities in Borno and Adamawa. In December, 7,249 new arrivals were registered. The movements were sparked by reasons of family reunification, socio-economic difficulties and fear of attack.

  • The spontaneous return of refugees continued in December. 202 people were registered by the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) in partnership with UNHCR: 120 from Cameroon, 82 from the Republic of Niger (via Damasak).

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