Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 July 2014, 15:15 GMT

Internal Displacement: Global Overview of Trends and Developments in 2010 - Nigeria

Publisher Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC)
Publication Date 23 March 2011
Cite as Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC), Internal Displacement: Global Overview of Trends and Developments in 2010 - Nigeria, 23 March 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4d932e19c.html [accessed 31 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Quick facts
Number of IDPsUndetermined
Percentage of total populationUndetermined
Start of current displacement situation1999
Peak number of IDPs (Year)Undetermined
New displacementAt least 5,000
Causes of displacementArmed conflict, generalised violence, human rights violations
Human development index142

Nigeria has experienced recurring conflicts along regional, religious, linguistic and ethnic lines since the country's return from military rule to democracy in 1999. These conflicts have led to fluctuating but consistently large numbers of IDPs.

There is a lack of reliable data on the number of IDPs in the country and no comprehensive survey on internal displacement has been conducted. Generally, the estimates provided by government and non-governmental agencies have only included people who have sought shelter at temporary IDP camps, and do not reflect the many who have taken refuge with family and friends. Furthermore, data is usually not disaggregated by age and sex and only refers to localised displacement situations. Due to the absence of mechanisms to monitor IDPs' ongoing situations, it is impossible to determine whether IDPs may have achieved durable solutions.

In May 2010, following the death of the president Umaru Yar'Adua, vice-president Goodluck Jonathan assumed the interim presidency until presidential elections planned for April 2011. There were clashes between supporters of the opposing candidates in some of the northern states in 2010, and more are likely as the competition for the presidency intensifies; such clashes may lead to internal displacement as they have during past elections.

In early 2010, inter-ethnic violence, fuelled by widespread poverty and disputes over resources, erupted in the city of Jos in Plateau State, resulting in the displacement of at least 5,000 people. Some of the people who were displaced sought shelter in police barracks, mosques and churches, and others with family and friends in the city. Some fled to neighbouring Bauchi State, where they found refuge in camps set up by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). Humanitarian aid was slow to reach the camps and many IDPs reportedly suffered from lack of food and other basic items in the aftermath of the violence. As of October 2010, some IDPs were still trying to return to their villages and rebuild their homes. A resettlement programme was initiated by NEMA and the Bauchi State government for the IDPs who were unwilling to return to Jos.

In the southern Niger Delta region, around 8,000 residents of the villages of Oporosa and Okerenkoko were still displaced in 2010 following clashes between government troops and militants of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) in May 2009. Most were reportedly staying with friends and relatives in neighbouring villages in Delta State, while waiting for the reconstruction of their villages to start. In December 2010, hundreds of families were displaced in the region following an attack on the village of Ayakoromor by the armed forces' Joint Task Force.

Natural disasters such as flooding and soil erosion have also regularly caused internal displacement in Nigeria. In conflict-affected states, these natural disasters have complicated displacement and return patterns. In some cases, it has also been difficult to distinguish between people displaced by conflict and disaster.

The government drafted a national IDP policy in 2004, but the policy was never formally adopted. However, in 2010, it appealed to the UN to support a profiling exercise to obtain more precise data on internal displacement, indicating its recognition of the need to take a more comprehensive approach to the problem. Nigeria has signed but not yet ratified the Kampala Convention.

In the absence of policy and legal frameworks, the responsibility to respond to displacement lies with local authorities. There are State Emergency Management Agencies in some states, which step in where local authorities are unable to respond. At the federal level, NEMA coordinates emergency relief operations and victim assistance and may intervene upon the president's decision.

As NEMA only has resources to respond to short-term emergencies, the National Commission for Refugees (NCFR) has taken effective responsibility for longer-term support measures enabling durable solutions for IDPs and refugees. However, it too lacks resources, and other government agencies have been brought in on a case-by-case basis in an effort to respond to crises.

International aid for Nigeria and the UN's interventions have not focused on IDPs, but rather on development activities designed to encourage democratic processes and respect for the rule of law and human rights.

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