Lake Chad crisis: the world must respond

20 FEBRUARY 2017

World leaders must step up their support for the 17 million people affected by violence in the Lake Chad Basin when they meet to discuss the conflict in Oslo this week.

World leaders will meet at The Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin on 24 February to increase the profile of the conflict in the region, secure financial contributions and generate political support.

Urgent support needed

Plan International and partners are calling on donors, governments, the UN and other humanitarian agencies to scale up their response to the conflict. In particular, we are highlighting the need for increased resources to:

  • Meet escalating humanitarian needs
  • Cater for girls’ specific requirements
  • Provide psychosocial support and child protection
  • Increase access to education
  • Provide opportunities for young people to generate an income
  • Tackle the root causes of the conflict.

The conflict in the Lake Chad Basin, which straddles Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, is resulting in one of Africa’s largest displacement crises and severe humanitarian needs. The situation is worsening, yet it remains underreported and underfunded.

Millions at risk

Violent attacks by Boko Haram, together with counter-insurgency measures, have been taking place since 2009, and have intensified since 2013. Over 17 million people have now been affected. More than 2.4 million people have been forced from their homes, 1.5 million of whom are children.

Displaced, separated and unaccompanied children are facing a heightened risk of abuse, violence, exploitation and neglect as a result of the violence.

Girls especially vulnerable

According to UN estimates, in North-East Nigeria alone, over 7,000 women and girls have been subjected to sexual violence by Boko Haram, including forced marriage, rape, abduction and slavery. Girls who return to their communities after escaping capture face stigma and exclusion.

Both boys and girls are increasingly being recruited to armed groups, forced to carry out suicide attacks and being used as human shields. Children who escape require psychosocial and other support to reintegrate into their communities.

Access to education has been severely affected by the crisis and has been deliberately targeted by Boko Haram. Schools have been attacked and used for military purposes, forcing teachers to flee.

Food and money shortages

Food insecurity and malnutrition have risen sharply. An estimated 515,000 acutely malnourished children could die if not urgently assisted. In addition, insecurity and displacement have severely undermined the ability of communities to generate an income, affecting the overall resilience of displaced people and host communities.

Ahead of the conference in Oslo, non-government organisations responding to the crisis, including Plan International, have produced 7 recommendations on how to save lives and assist the people affected.