OPERATIONAL CONTEXT & HIGHLIGHTS
- Following the trend observed during the month of April, suicide attacks, incursions and numerous mine explosions continued to be recorded across the region, marking a renewed deterioration of the security situation. UNHCR’s activities were affected by these developments because access to persons of concern in border areas and newly accessible zones has been reduced as result.
- On 6 May, 82 Chibok schoolgirls were released by Boko Haram (BH) in exchange for five of the group’s leaders. The girls were reunited with their families two weeks later in Abuja. This followed a similar deal reached in October 2016, in which 21 girls had been released, but more than 100 Chibok girls still remain in BH’s captivity. Human rights groups estimate thousands of men, women and children have been abducted by BH and have called on the Nigerian authorities to do more to ensure their safe return.
- UNHCR organized a three-day workshop in Abuja for government partners, UN agencies, NGOs and INGOs from 10-13 May on international protection principles for IDPs. The workshop was aimed at fostering a mutual understanding of protection in the north-east context with a view to improving coordination, building an effective response and analyzing return strategies. UNHCR is committed to supporting Nigeria in building its protection and solutions capacity for the displaced. The significant increase in IDP returns was described in principle as a step in the right direction, as long as all stakeholders keep IDPs’ best interest in mind and ensure these movements are voluntary in nature.
- As of 28 May, and in collaboration with its governmental counterparts UNHCR had registered a total of 12,428 Nigerian refugee returnees1 from Cameroon and Chad in the border town of Banki, Borno State and Sahuda, Adamawa State. Out of this group, 67 per cent had been registered as refugees in their country of asylum, 32 per cent had not been registered and the rest were not able to provide an answer. The majority (67 per cent) of returnees from Cameroon stated they had been forced to return. UNHCR and its partners are working to respond to the situation in Banki, where the great majority of dwellings have been destroyed.
- A three-day ministerial meeting on the adoption of a Regional Plan of Action to eradicate statelessness in West Africa took place in Banjul from 7-9 May. During the opening ceremony, the UNHCR regional representative for West Africa said that massive displacement in Nigeria’s north-east poses a great danger for the crisis’ victims across the region. In Niger for example, 80 per cent of the population does not have identity documents, and is at risk of statelessness. She pointed to the potential detrimental effects this would have on achieving durable solutions and stressed the link between statelessness and sustaining peace and security in the region.