Back to normal – Nigeria

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Millions of conflict-affected Nigerians are seeking refuge in overcrowded displacement camps. Others find themselves in often hostile host communities. The new reality has created new subpopulations and new struggles. There are often tensions between internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host communities who have access to previously insufficient resources. The realities in the displacement camps are no better. Basic decency is largely a luxury that many camp residents cannot afford. In addition, sexual violence, risks of violent attacks and limited access to social services, including education, pose different challenges for the displaced population. Children who make up a considerable part of displacement statistics have limited access to education.

In Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY States), an estimated 2.1 million people are internally displaced. In a broader context, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) indicates that approximately 2.7 million people are displaced in the Lake Chad basin. Nigeria contributes 4.3% of the world’s 79.5 million figures, making it one of the top 10 countries at risk of humanitarian disasters. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) estimates the underprivileged population at 10.6 million. Unfortunately, the resources available are insufficient to respond to the humanitarian crisis, and continued terror will worsen the dark trajectory. The Nigerian government and its development partners are working to meet the urgent needs of the displaced population. However, there is still much to do.

Nigeria’s displaced population continues to survive despite these challenges and with the hope of a return to normalcy. Given that the violent conflicts, which have largely triggered displacement, are not over, a return to normalcy seems remote. However, in some cases, the Nigerian government had begun to return and resettle different groups of internally displaced persons (IDPs). Rebuilding the lives of displaced people can be difficult if preparations have not started while they are in displacement camps. Smith (2015) argues that education can support social transformation by contributing to economic development in post-conflict reconstruction. Therefore, more programs should focus on education and vocational skills in IDP camps should be implemented. This effort will significantly enable displaced people who have lost their livelihoods and who have been relatively less productive for long periods of time to be self-sufficient once resettled. Return and Resettlement recommends that the acquisition of vocational skills is necessary to facilitate the easy resettlement of displaced persons, as this would increase the security of livelihoods upon return.

Given the pace of violent conflict across Nigeria, emergency strategy education should be mainstreamed into government policies. Violent conflict discourages and limits access to schools. The Nigerian government and its development partners should integrate emergency education components into humanitarian responses. In addition, there is a need to objectively assess the impact of similar programs in target locations. Lessons learned from the study will inform government and development partner programming for IDPs, their return and resettlement.

Like the rest of the world, Nigeria must first meet the needs of its displaced population. Second, it must also address the triggers for displacement. The achievement of return and resettlement of internally displaced persons will be more meaningful if the causes of displacement have been relatively addressed. The government must also ensure that the returning population is resettled in a safe environment where they can also start their lives over. This will ensure that they are not displaced again due to insecurity or an internal crisis between them.

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