Food Scarcity In North-East Drive People To IDP Camps


One of the aftermath of the Boko Haram violence is the current food scarcity experienced in the North-Eastern region of the country, where the major brunt of the insurgent’s attack has been felt. As a result of the food shortage, people who were forced out of their homes are now leaving host families and relocating into the camps of the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, said the European Commission’s humanitarian arm (ECHO), on Wednesday.

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According to the United Nation, seven million of the people in the North-East lack sufficient food to eat while about one-third of them are in need of urgent food aid. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Thomas Dehermann-Roy, the head of ECHO’s Central Africa office, revealed that Nigeria has 2.2 million internally displaced people and 9 in 10 of these people prefer to live with host families in the region to staying in camps, amidst food scarcity that is beginning to be an issue of serious concern in many homes.

“It is easier to host your neighbors, friends and family when everything is fine, but when food becomes scarce, tensions are raised,” he said. “Around two-thirds of people uprooted by conflict and four in five host families in North-east Nigeria said food was their most pressing and unfulfilled need, according to ECHO. Some people are moving to camps as the living situation with host families becomes too harsh. This is a worrying trend and sign of a deteriorating situation, ” Thomas says. 

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Last year, the Boko Haram terrorists were driven back from much of the territory it held in North-eastern Nigeria by Nigeria’s regional offensive in conjunction with Niger, Chad and Cameroon, thereby destabilizing the six-year campaign of the group to carve out an Islamic caliphate.

But the unrelenting terrorists have since launched counter attacks with suicide bombings and other forms of attacks on innocent civilians, threatening their sources of livelihood and preventing aid groups from delivering food. According to OCHA, there have been a reduction of about 70% in the area of land used for food cultivation in the previous year, resulting from the violence which has caused a hitch in farming and sent people away from their land.

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Boko Haram insurgents have been stopped from raising funds by selling livestock, hence closing down the cattle trade in Maiduguri, while the conflict has stifled cross-border trade with neighboring countries like Cameroun, Chad and Niger. As ECHO disclosed, the government is persuading the displaced persons to go back home, but the steady arrival of newly displaced people in Maiduguri, Borno State capital, points to the fact that parts of the northeastern region are still unsafe. According to Dehermann-Roy, aid agencies may not be able to reach or provide assistance to people who go back to insecure areas and this food scarcity could possibly push people to sell their possessions and even trade sex for food.

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