On 21 May 2019, the Nigerian military commenced a unilateral relocation of civilian populations from Sabon Gari, a border community in Damboa LGA of Borno State to the Government Science Secondary School (GSSS) and Unity camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Damboa Town, located some 85 kilometers south-west of Maiduguri, the state capital, citing safety and security reasons.
Of the total 3,767 people relocated on 21 May, 1,427 were moved to the Unity Camp after a military screening while 2,330 were taken to an open space at the GSS camp after a similar screening by the military.
The relocation exercise, which commenced with an initial movement of 3,767 people on 21 May, did not involve humanitarian partners or consider pre-existing conditions and holding capacity of the GSSS and Unity camps where populations were taken to.
While military-facilitated relocations stopped on 23 May, populations continued to arrive by their own means, covering a distance of about 52 kilometers from Sabon Gari to GSSS and Unity camps on foot or bicycles.
As of 28 May, partners have registered a total of 9,693 people (2,071 households). Due to limited space and shelters in the camps, only about 1,427 of the new arrivals have either received shelters at the Unity Camp Phase 2 or occupied the classrooms at the GSSS. Others, including more than 8,000 people, mostly women and children, are currently sleeping in the open without shelters, exposing them to extreme weather conditions and protection risks.
Sabon Gari community is a border town linking Damboa LGA with Biu LGA and has witnessed an escalation of attacks and clashes between non-state armed groups (NSAGs) and government forces in recent weeks.
The spate of attacks has led to a temporary closure of Damboa-Biu road and the Damboa weekly market by the military.
In the wake of the military relocations, about half of Sabon Gari’s civilian population of over 18,000 people fled to neighbouring communities and there are likelihoods that they may move to GSSS and Unity camps in the coming days, further exacerbating the situation. Nearly half of these populations were IDPs living in host communities across Sabon Gari, and are now facing secondary displacement.
The response and needs:
As of 28 May, humanitarian partners have registered 9,693 individuals (2,071 households) new arrivals. Due to limited space and shelters, only about 1,427 of the populations are hosted in the camps: 710 (142 households) at the Unity Camp Phase 2, and 717 (156 households) in classrooms at the GSSS. Others, including over 8,000 people, mostly women and children, are currently sleeping in the open without shelters and exposed to harsh weather conditions and protection risks. Two transit shades and temporary shelters have been completed by partners, while efforts are being intensified to complete construction of WASH facilities at the nearby Technical Secondary School (TSS) where some of the populations currently without shelters will be moved, following military approval.
Daily provision of wet feeding to the entire population of new arrivals is ongoing, and partners are working on their inclusion in the general food distribution (GFD) programme for dry food assistance.
NFIs including cooking wares, sleeping materials and water storage containers remains a major challenge as most of the populations arrived with nothing. Partners have committed to the provision of some 7,000 NFIs, including dignity kits for women and adolescent girls, in the coming days.
Despite challenges of poor yields from existing water points, partners have scaled up water trucking activities reaching a daily average of about 104,000 litres since 27 May. This however does not meet the required threshold of 15 litres per person each day, as additional 50,000 litres are needed each day. At least 152 emergency latrines are required at the reception centre, while a 60,000 litres water storage tank is needed at TSS site where some of the populations currently without shelters will be moved. Additional WASH services including a scale up of water trucking and construction of latrines are planned for the coming days by partners.
Partners continue to scale up health services including outpatient services, antenatal care and nutrition screening for children among the new arrivals. Some 142 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) have been admitted to the outpatient therapeutic programme (OTP), while 23 SAM cases with complications are being handled at the stabilization centre. There is an urgent need to replenish drug supplies and also expand the clinic in view of the influx which more than triples the preexisting population of the camps.
Following engagements with the military command on movement restrictions, a humanitarian convoy will be delivering urgently needed aid (including food, NFIs, health and WASH supplies) to Damboa in the coming days to meet the needs of the displaced and new arrival populations. Review teams will also visit Damboa for on-the-spot assessments that will inform continuous scale up of assistance to affected populations.