UNDP and Japan support internally displaced in northeast NigeriaJan 6, 2017
Mafa, a liberated Local Government Area (LGA) in northeast Nigeria, remains largely deserted as residents have fled to Maiduguri, a more secure city 45 kilometres away. Due to the military insurgency, major infrastructure has been destroyed, rendering most public places unsafe and forcing the closure of local businesses. Although the Nigerian army’s military operations led to the recapturing of Mafa and nearby towns from Boko Haram in early 2015, sporadic attacks by the militant group still continue to leave thousands displaced in or outside the LGA. Schools are now being used as temporary camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
The Government of Japan, together with UNDP and its implementing partners, continue to provide support to the people affected by the military insurgency in the region through projects in livelihood and social cohesion, as well as in de-radicalization, counter-terrorism and migration. The Borno State Ministry of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (MRRR), an implementing partner for the livelihood and social cohesion project, has distributed agricultural inputs, including seeds and fertilizer, as well as equipment to farmers, to help them restart their businesses and restore their livelihoods. UNDP support also led to the rehabilitation of the offices of the Mafa LGA Secretariat, creating short-term employment opportunities for local residents.
Hassan*, an unskilled laborer at the rehabilitation site who lost most of his relatives and friends during the conflict, believes the short-term employment opportunity will help him rebuild his life. He is preparing to resume farming from the next rainy season. With relative peace restored in the area, many are slowly returning to Mafa from Maiduguri with the hope of receiving support that will help them restart their lives. Abdul*, who recently returned to Mafa after having been displaced in Maiduguri for three years, is still living in an IDP camp. He is re-starting his trade as a tailor with a sewing machine provided by the project. Many like Hassan and Abdul, who are benefiting from this kind of support, are determined to bounce back to normal life and be able to contribute to the development of their communities.
During a visit to the area, Dr. Babagana Umara Zulum, Commissioner of MRRR expressed appreciation for the support of UNDP and the Government of Japan. He emphasized the ongoing importance of the project in light of the more than 2 million IDPs in the northeast who continue to need urgent help, especially now that more areas are being liberated from Boko Haram.
The Government of Japan is also funding the De-radicalization, Counter-Terrorism and Migration project aimed at strengthening cooperation and coordination between security agencies, judicial institutions, community and religious leaders, as well as youth and women's organizations to stem the tide of violent extremism. The initiative has so far enhanced the capacity of over 400 personnel in security agencies.
*Names have been changed.