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ReliefWeb - Updates

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    Source: Caritas
    Country: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, Nigeria

    More than a million Nigerians have fled fanatically violent attacks by the Islamic militant group Boko Haram. Spilling over into neighbouring countries, these displaced families have relied on Catholic Church and other aid groups for basic necessities like shelter, food and medicine. On 26 and 27 March, Caritas representatives from the region will meet in Rome to create a humanitarian action plan for displaced families, refugees, and those returning to their destroyed villages.

    “The terror and suffering that the people of Nigeria have experienced is extreme,” said Caritas Nigeria Executive Director Father Evaristus Bassey, who will attend the Rome meeting. “We at Caritas, along with other people of goodwill, are doing our best to provide food, health care and sometimes shelter to the families who had to flee their homes. But the needs are staggering.’

    In Nigeria and surrounding countries like Niger, Chad, and Cameroon, Caritas and Catholic dioceses are helping the displaced. More than 2500 people are staying at a camp at Saint Theresa Cathedral in Yola, Nigeria, with thousands more sheltering in church buildings around the country. Recently, Catholic bishops in Cameroon appealed to Nigeria’s bishops for help responding to the needs of tens of thousands of Nigerian refugees who fled to their country.

    The Rome meeting will include Caritas representatives from Cameroon, Niger, and Chad. While Caritas has focused immediate needs like food and medicine, a coming challenge is reintegration in areas recaptured by Nigeria’s government. “With people going back to their homes, there are real issues about rebuilding and recovery,” says Fr Bassey. “So much has been destroyed–most people have no homes, nothing.”

    The Rome meeting will also focus on the plight of families in the Central African Republic, where communal violence has flared up and driven more than 800,000 people from their homes. In both cases, Caritas and other aid groups are overwhelmed. The meeting will focus on ways Caritas members from the region, and around the world, can address the crisis.

    “The attention of the world has not been turned to this problem,” said Fr Bassey. “Nigerians are rising to the occasion, but the needs are so many.”

    About Caritas Internationalis

    Caritas Internationalis is the official humanitarian and development organisation of the Catholic Church, dedicated to serving the poor and promoting charity and justice. Inspired by the Gospels and Catholic teaching, the 164 national members of Caritas Internationalis help the poorest, respond to disasters, provide social services, and speak out against the causes of poverty. www.caritas.org

    Interviews are available. Media contact:

    Laura Sheahen, Caritas Internationalis, sheahen@caritas.va


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Chad, Nigeria, World

    United Nations, United States | | Wednesday 3/25/2015 - 17:33 GMT

    Chad's UN envoy on Wednesday voiced frustration over Security Council inaction on endorsing a regional force fighting Boko Haram, arguing that the Nigerian extremists are "more dangerous" than Islamic State fighters.

    Ambassador Mahamat Cherif told reporters that a draft resolution circulated last week to the 15-member council had hit a wall over a key provision invoking chapter 7 of the UN charter.

    "I think Boko Haram is more dangerous than ISIS," said Cherif, using the acronym for the Islamic State group sowing violence and fear in Syria and Iraq.

    "What we do for ISIS, we should do against Boko Haram."

    Chapter 7 allows member states to use all possible means to enforce a resolution including economic sanctions and military force to confront a threat to world peace and security.

    Diplomats told AFP that Nigeria had balked at the provision, dealing a major setback to weeks of negotiations on the draft resolution that would also set up a trust fund to help finance the regional force's operations.

    Cherif acknowledged that a vote on the measure was not imminent.

    Nigeria's mission to the United Nations could not be immediately reached for comment, but diplomats speculated that the elections on Saturday may have played a role in the about-face.

    "The international community recognizes Boko Haram as a threat to international peace and security," Cherif argued.

    "In Damasak, the last town liberated by Chad and Nigeria, we found a mass grave. I think it's very serious."

    Boko Haram, which has been listed by the United Nations as a terror group, pledged allegiance to IS earlier this month, heightening concerns after the extremists expanded their campaign to neighboring countries.

    The African Union has set up the five-nation force of 8,700 troops to defeat Boko Haram, which has killed more than 13,000 people over the past seven years and shocked the world with the abduction of 276 schoolgirls in April last year.

    Chad is playing a leading role in the regional force, alongside Nigeria, Cameroon, Benin and Niger.

    Drafted by Chad, Nigeria and Angola, the text before the Security Council would provide for endorsement of the regional force and threaten sanctions to punish Boko Haram supporters.

    cml/jm


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Chad, Nigeria, World

    Nations unies, Etats-Unis | | mercredi 25/03/2015 - 18:00 GMT

    Le Tchad souhaite qu'un projet de résolution de l'ONU soutenant la lutte contre le groupe islamiste nigérian Boko Haram soit adopté au plus vite et s'impatiente des réticences de certains de ses partenaires, a indiqué mercredi son ambassadeur à l'ONU Mahamat Zene Cherif.

    Le Tchad a présenté la semaine dernière à ses 14 partenaires du Conseil de sécurité un texte par lequel le Conseil donne un appui politique et financier à une force anti-Boko Haram de 10.000 hommes créée par l'Union africaine.

    Il s'agit d'un texte sous chapitre 7, c'est-à-dire autorisant l'utilisation de moyens coercitifs, dont la force militaire.

    "Je ne sais pas pourquoi nous continuons à discuter s'il faut utiliser le chapitre 7 ou non", a lancé à des journalistes l'ambassadeur tchadien. "La communauté internationale dans son ensemble a reconnu que Boko Haram est une menace pour la paix et la sécurité internationales".

    "Je pense que Boko Haram est plus dangereux que (le groupe) Etat islamique, ce que nous faisons contre l'EI nous devrions le faire aussi contre Boko Haram", a-t-il affirmé.

    L'ambassadeur n'a pas voulu se prononcer sur une date pour l'adoption du texte.

    Il n'a pas précisé quels pays traînaient des pieds. Mais selon des diplomates du Conseil, le Tchad a été particulièrement irrité par une volte-face du Nigeria, qui après avoir participé à la rédaction du projet pendant des semaines a remis en cause l'inclusion du chapitre 7. Les mêmes diplomates estiment que ce revirement pourrait s'expliquer en partie par l'approche des élections au Nigeria.

    Selon ces diplomates, les Etats-Unis et la Grande-Bretagne ont aussi émis des réserves. Ils craignent de mettre le doigt dans un engrenage qui amèneraient à lancer une intervention onusienne et rechignent à financer une opération dont ils n'auraient pas le contrôle.

    Le secrétaire général Ban Ki-moon serait chargé de mettre en place un fonds destiné à recevoir les contributions des pays désireux d'aider à financer la force sur une base volontaire.

    Le Tchad, soutenu par la France, insiste pour obtenir une vraie couverture du Conseil pour les opérations militaires qu'il a déjà engagées dans la région contre Boko Haram.

    Selon le projet de résolution, la force régionale rassemblant cinq pays (Tchad, Nigeria, Cameroun, Bénin, Niger) serait chargée de "créer un environnement sûr et un climat de sécurité dans les zones touchées par les activités de Boko Haram".

    Le Conseil menacerait aussi de sanctionner tous les soutiens au groupe islamiste nigérian, qui a plaidé allégeance à l'organisation Etat islamique.

    avz/gde


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    Source: Fund for Peace
    Country: Niger

    Following the party primaries in late 2014, political jockeying has continued between and among parties. The postponement of the elections originally slated for February 14, due to insecurity in the Northeast, appears to have raised the level of uncertainty. In some states, gangs and cult groups have taken sides. In others, political rallies have escalated to violence. Even issues not directly election-related such as communal tensions and criminality have been affected. Logistical challenges around the distribution of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) have further complicated matters. Unlike previous cycles, this election looks to be a real contest between the ruling party and the opposition, which has raised the stakes considerably, particularly in states like Rivers and Edo.

    At the presidential level, the contest is between a candidate from the Niger Delta and one from the North. However it would be a mistake to assume that the Niger Delta region is monolithic in its support of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), particularly at the state level. While the severity of election violence may ultimately vary depending on who wins the federal election, in the Niger Delta it is perhaps more important for stakeholders to focus their conflict mitigation efforts around the state and local elections. These will occur two weeks later, with their results in many ways more directly salient for local constituents. This memo captures the latest trends in the nine states, including the dynamics particular to each.


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    Source: AlertNet
    Country: Cameroon, Nigeria

    Author: Elias Ntungwe Ngalame

    MINDIF, Cameroon, March 24 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A pioneering solar-powered water distribution system is improving access to potable water in a region of Far North Cameroon beset by drought, water-related illness and an influx of refugees fleeing Boko Haram attacks.

    Read the full article


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    Source: Famine Early Warning System Network
    Country: Mali

    Insécurité alimentaire de Stress au Nord à partir d’avril liée à la baisse de production et de revenus

    MESSAGES CLÉS

    • Les marchés sont bien approvisionnés en céréales en raison du bon niveau de production agricole globale 2014 dans le pays. Les prix du mil sont stables ou en baisse entre 6 et 24 pourcent par rapport à la moyenne dans l’ensemble ce qui maintient un accès moyen des ménages aux denrées en cette période.

    • La soudure pastorale précoce en cours avec risque de mortalité d’animaux plus élevée que d’habitude entre avril et mai, engendre des mouvements inhabituels qui réduisent les productions de lait et le prix des animaux. La baisse de revenus qui en résulte limitera l’accès des ménages agropastoraux pauvres aux marchés et qui seront par conséquent en insécurité alimentaire de Stress (Phase 2 de l’IPC) à partir d’avril.

    • La dépendance plus prolongée que d’habitude des ménages pauvres des zones agropastorales de Gao et de Tombouctou aux marchés les amène à intensifier les activités de mains d’œuvre, à recourir plus aux emprunts et à réduire les dépenses non alimentaires pour satisfaire leurs besoins alimentaires. Par conséquent ils seront en situation d’insécurité alimentaire de Stress (phase 2 IPC) à partir d’avril avec toutefois une probabilité de Crise (Phase 3 de l’IPC) dès juillet.


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    Source: Caritas
    Country: Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria

    Plus d’un million de Nigérians ont fui les attaques extrêmement violentes du groupe militant islamiste Boko Haram. Se dispersant toujours plus dans les pays avoisinants, ces familles délacées n’ont eu d’autre appui que l’aide de l’Église catholique et celle d’autres groupes humanitaires pour leurs besoins essentiels tels que l’abri, la nourriture et les médicaments. Les 26 et 27 mars, des représentants Caritas de la région se réuniront à Rome afin de concevoir un plan d’action humanitaire pour les familles déplacées, les réfugiés et ceux qui retournent à leurs villages détruits.

    « La terreur et les souffrances que le peuple nigérian traverse sont extrêmes », dit le Directeur exécutif de Caritas Nigéria, Père Evaristus Bassey, qui participera à la réunion. « Nous autres de Caritas, avec d’autres personnes de bonne volonté, nous faisons de notre mieux pour fournir de la nourriture, des soins et parfois des abris aux familles qui ont dû fuir de chez elles. Mais les besoins sont sidérants. »

    Au Nigéria et dans les pays limitrophes comme le Niger, le Tchad et le Cameroun, Caritas et les diocèses catholiques aident les personnes déplacées. Plus de 2500 personnes résident dans un camp de la Cathédrale de Sainte-Thérése à Yola, au Nigéria, des milliers d’autres résidant dans des édifices de l’Église un peu partout dans le pays. Récemment, les évêques catholiques du Cameroun ont appelé à l’aide leurs homologues du Nigéria pour répondre aux besoins des dizaines de milliers de réfugiés nigérians ayant fui leur pays.

    La réunion de Rome comptera des représentants de Caritas du Cameroun, du Niger et du Tchad. Alors que Caritas s’est pour l’instant concentrée sur le besoins immédiats tels que la nourriture et les médicaments, la réintégration dans les zones récupérées par le gouvernement nigérian devient elle aussi un défi émergeant. « Les personnes rentrant chez elles, il y a de réelles difficultés autour de la reconstruction et de la réhabilitation », dit P. Bassey. « Il y a eu tellement de destruction – la plupart des gens n’ont pas de toit, ils n’ont rien du tout ».

    La réunion se concentrera aussi sur la détresse des familles en République centrafricaine, où les violences communautaires ont explosé et porté plus de 800 000 personnes à fuir de chez elles. Dans les deux cas, Caritas et d’autres groupes humanitaires sont surchargés. La réunion se concentrera sur comment les membres Caritas de la région et du monde entier peuvent affronter cette crise. « L’attention du monde ne s’est pas portée vers ce problème », dit P. Bassey. « Les Nigérians sont à la hauteur de la situation, mais les besoins sont immenses. »

    À propos de Caritas Internationalis

    Caritas Internationalis est l’organisation humanitaire et de développement de l’Église catholique, vouée au service des pauvres et à la promotion de la charité et de la justice. S’inspirant des Évangiles et de l’enseignement catholique, les 164 organisations nationales membres de Caritas Internationalis aident les plus pauvres, répondent aux catastrophes, fournissent des services sociaux, et élèvent leur voix contre les causes de la pauvreté. www.caritas.org

    Les interviews sont disponibles. Contact médiatique :

    Laura Sheahen, Caritas Internationalis sheahen@caritas.va


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    Source: Famine Early Warning System Network
    Country: Niger, Nigeria

    Les bons stocks familiaux entrainent une timide demande sur les marchés et un déclin des prix

    MESSAGES CLÉS

    • Contrairement aux années antérieures, l’accès aux céréales par les achats sur les marchés représentent encore en mars 2015 une faible proportion des sources de nourritures des ménages grâce aux stocks familiaux encore disponibles. Cette situation se matérialise par une demande faible sur les marchés et une tendance soutenue vers la baisse des prix des céréales.

    • Les ménages dans leur majorité parviennent à couvrir leurs besoins alimentaires en mars 2015 sauf dans certaines zones localisées dans les régions de Tillabéri, Tahoua, Zinder ou les moyens financiers sont insuffisants pour assurer les dépenses essentielles. Les ménages de la région de Diffa sont soumis à des déficits suite au conflit qui perturbe l’action humanitaire.

    • En avril-juin, le nombre de zones en insécurité alimentaire va augmenter suite à la dégradation dans certaines zones supplémentaires de la région de Zinder qui vont venir élargir l’étendue de la Stress (Phase 2 de l’IPC) insécurité alimentaire. L’ampleur de l’insécurité alimentaire va augmenter dans la région de Diffa, ce qui va se traduire par une Crise (Phase 3 de l’IPC) dans la zone pastorale et localement dans les zones agricoles et agropastorale.


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    Source: Human Rights Watch
    Country: Nigeria

    Urgent Need for Aid, Protection for Fleeing Civilians

    (Abuja, March 26, 2015) – Attacks by the Islamist armed group Boko Haram killed more than 1,000 civilians in 2015, based on witness accounts and an analysis of media reports, Human Rights Watch said today. Boko Haram fighters have deliberately attacked villages and committed mass killings and abductions as their attacks have spread from northeast Nigeria into Cameroon, Chad, and Niger since February.

    Human Rights Watch interviews in late January with people who fled Yobe, Adamawa, and Borno states in northeastern Nigeria revealed horrific levels of brutality. Since mid-2014, Boko Haram fighters have seized control of scores of towns and villages covering 17 local government areas in these northeastern states, some of which were recaptured by Nigerian and Chadian forces in March 2015.

    “Each week that passes we learn of more brutal Boko Haram abuses against civilians,” said Mausi Segun, Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Nigerian government needs to make protecting civilians a priority in military operations against Boko Haram.”

    The findings underscore the human toll of the conflict between Boko Haram and forces from from Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency says that nearly one million people have been forced to flee since the Islamist rebel group began its violent uprising in July 2009. During 2014, Human Rights Watch estimates that at least 3,750 civilians died during Boko Haram attacks in these areas. Attacks in the first quarter of 2015 have increased compared to the same period in 2014, including seven suicide bombings allegedly using women and children.

    The group also abducted hundreds of women and girls many of whom were subjected to forced conversion, forced marriage, rape, and other abuse. Scores of young men and boys were forced to join Boko Haram’s ranks or face death, according to Human Rights Watch research. Hundreds of thousands of residents were forced to flee the area, either because Boko Haram fighters ordered them to leave or out of fear for their lives.

    Displaced people told Human Rights Watch they had fled with only the clothes on their backs after witnessing killings and the burning of their homes and communities by Boko Haram, and in one case by Nigerian security forces.

    “As bombs thrown up by Boko Haram started exploding around us on the hills, I saw body parts scatter in different directions,” one witness of attacks in the Gwoza hills in Borno State told Human Rights Watch in late January. “Those already weakened by starvation and thirst coughed repeatedly from the smoke of the explosions until they passed out… I escaped at night.”

    Displaced people also described targeted burning of schools by Boko Haram, and a few instances in which government forces took over schools. Deliberate attacks on schools and other civilian structures not being used for military purposes are war crimes. Attacks on schools by Boko Haram, displacement as a result of attacks on villages, and the use of schools by Nigerian army soldiers not only damage schools but interfere with access to education for thousands of children in the northeast.

    According to Human Rights Watch research, Nigerian security forces failed to take all feasible precautions to protect the civilian population in their military operations against Boko Haram.

    In December, Nigerian security forces attacked and burned down the village of Mundu near a Boko Haram base in Bauchi State, witnesses told Human Rights Watch, leaving 5 civilians dead and 70 families homeless. Villagers told Human Rights Watch that Boko Haram was not present in the village when it was attacked.

    “The soldiers were shouting in what sounded like English, which most of us did not understand,” the village leader told Human Rights Watch. “We all began running when the soldiers started shooting and setting fire to our homes and other buildings. We returned two days later to find five bodies.” The dead included an 80-year-old blind man burned in his home, a homeless woman with mental disabilities, two visitors attending a wedding in the village, and a 20-year-old man, all of whom were shot.

    Army authorities in Abuja said they were unaware of the incident when presented with Human Rights Watch’s findings on March 11, but said they had ordered military police to investigate the claims.

    According to media reports, between September and March, Nigerian military authorities charged and tried 307 soldiers who had been on operations in the north for “cowardice,” mutiny, and other military offenses, sentencing 70 of them to death. Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all circumstances because of its inherent cruelty. No military personnel have faced prosecution for human rights abuses against civilians in the northeast.

    “Civilians in the northeast desperately need protection from Boko Haram attacks and they should never be targeted by the very soldiers who are supposed to be defending them,” Segun said. “The military’s decision to investigate the alleged violations in Mundu is an important first step toward ensuring accountability and compensation for the victims.”

    In January, the African Union (AU) endorsed a multinational task force comprising of troops from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger to fight Boko Haram after the insurgents increased cross border attacks into Cameroon, Niger, and Chad. The action followed attacks on numerous villages and towns in northeastern Nigeria.

    The AU is seeking a United Nations Security Council resolution to endorse the task force. Since early March, Nigerian security forces aided by forces from Cameroon, Chad, and Niger have dislodged Boko Haram from some areas of Nigeria’s northeast.

    The situation in Nigeria is under preliminary examination by the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor. Preliminary examination may or may not lead to the opening of an ICC investigation. The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on February 2, 2015, warned that persons inciting or engaging in acts of violence in Nigeria within the ICC’s jurisdiction are liable to prosecution by Nigerian Courts or the ICC. The ICC is a court of last resort, which intervenes only when national courts are unable or unwilling to investigate and prosecute serious crimes violating international law.

    Nigerian authorities should ensure that the December 6 attack on Mundu is effectively investigated and that any military personnel, including commanders, responsible for human rights abuses and war crimes are held to account. War crimes by Boko Haram should be properly investigated and the perpetrators held to account in fair trials, Human Rights Watch said.

    “The increased military effort has not made the situation for civilians in northeastern Nigeria any less desperate,” Segun said. “Without a stronger effort to protect civilians and accountability for abuses, the situation can only get worse.”

    For detailed accounts by victims and recommendations, please see below.

    For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Nigeria, please visit: http://www.hrw.org/en/africa/nigeria

    Background

    In late January, Human Rights Watch interviewed 26 internally displaced persons (IDPs) aged between 14 to 58, and 13 others including journalists, aid workers, and government officials in Bauchi, Jos, and Karu, in northeastern and north central Nigeria.

    According to a March 2015 report by the International Organization for Migration, more than 92 percent of people displaced by the conflict are staying with family members or other host families in communities where they have little access to humanitarian support, stretching the already limited capabilities of host families. Representatives of international non-governmental agencies told Human Rights Watch that lack of access to internally displaced people and inadequate funds hamper their efforts to provide relief and protection to those groups.

    Specific incidents and patterns of abuse are described below.

    Nigerian Army Attack in Mundu, Bauchi State

    On December 6, 2015, Nigerian army soldiers attacked the village of Mundu, in Bauchi State, leaving at least five civilians dead and burning down most of the village, according to witnesses interviewed separately by Human Rights Watch. Six months earlier, the village leader had told the army that “strange people” whom he believed were members of Boko Haram had set up a camp in the forest 2 kilometers away. Soldiers visited the village in June and August asking for details of the camp’s location, which residents could not provide since they were afraid to go into the forest.

    Mundu residents interviewed by Human Rights Watch said the village did not have Boko Haram members and that Boko Haram did not have fighters stationed there including at the time of the attack. The witnesses said that on occasion Boko Haram members came to the village market to buy food and other supplies, warned residents not to report their presence to the security forces and then returned to the nearby forest.

    As the attack began, a low-flying helicopter hovered over the village, another village community leader said. Then hundreds of soldiers in 7 armored personnel carriers and 30 military trucks entered the village, and the soldiers opened fire, he said.

    Satellite imagery recorded on December 14 and 24 and analyzed by Human Rights Watch provides compelling evidence of extensive fire burn scars across the village, and shows that at least 490 out of 550 structures were most likely destroyed by fire. The distinctive burn scar pattern surrounding village housing, separated by healthy vegetation and unaffected topsoil, is consistent with an arson attack, Human Rights Watch said.

    When presented with the findings in a meeting on March 11 in Abuja, army authorities said they were unaware of the incident. The leader of the team of military investigators said that the chief of army staff, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minimah, had ordered “the immediate deployment of the military police to investigate the allegations.”

    Deliberate attacks on civilians and property, as well as attacks that do not discriminate between civilians and combatants are prohibited under international humanitarian law, which is binding on all parties to the conflict. Summary executions violate both the laws of war and international human rights law.

    Boko Haram Attacks in Gwoza Area, Borno State

    On August 6, 2014, Boko Haram fighters attacked and seized control of the Gwoza local government area, in Borno State. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that many of the male residents of the town and surrounding villages fled to the Gwoza hills where, from a rocky lookout, they watched as the insurgents mounted their black flag over the local government headquarters, corralled 300 hundred of the town’s women and children into vehicles and drove them toward Sambisa Forest, where Boko Haram has a camp.

    The insurgents also rounded up hundreds of men and boys over age 10. Those who refused to join Boko Haram were shot or slaughtered with machetes, witnesses said.

    One 45-year-old man said: “I saw two of my nephews ages 13 and 18 slump down and die as the insurgents rained blows on them with guns and machetes.”

    After five months during which other residents remained trapped on the hills, hiding in caves and weakened by hunger, Boko Haram attacked the civilians there, killing many and forcing others to escape over the border into Cameroon.

    A 55-year-old man from Gwoza with a physical disability from childhood polio said he and his family fled to the hills after the August 6 attack fearing he would be killed because he wouldn’t be useful to the Boko Haram forces who he referred to as “insurgents”:

    For about a week after we fled, we would sneak back home to eat meals prepared by women left in the town. By the second week, seven out of nine young men who sneaked into the town to eat were shot and killed by insurgents, who had now fully taken control of the town. For another seven weeks we survived on what little food young children could sneak to us up on the hill. Hunger was a constant problem. Women, including my stepmother and sister-in-law who tried to help us were abducted and taken away by the insurgents.

    By August the insurgents began to come up the hills to kill many people so we left for Cameroon with about 70 others until transporters paid by the Borno State government brought us back to Yola. It was from there that I found my way to Jos.

    Boko Haram Attack in Michika, Adamawa State

    In Michika, a commercial town near the Cameroon border in northern Adamawa State, at least 30 people were killed, news media reported, when Boko Haram sacked the town in September 2104.

    A 46-year-old woman who witnessed the Michika attack told Human Rights Watch that Boko Haram fighters killed many of the men, sparing only the people with disabilities and the elderly and took away young women and girls to a nearby forest. “When I went back home the following day, there was no trace of my missing husband and four children,” the woman said. “Muslim leaders helped to bury the bodies of 10 of my relatives.”

    A 35-year-old Christian woman from Michika, Adamawa State, said on the day of the attack, a Sunday, she was attending a church service when a Muslim neighbor who was a member of a local defense group rode up on a motorcycle and warned everyone to leave because the town was being attacked:

    He advised us not to run to a nearby wooded area because the insurgents had laid an ambush. We began to hear the gunshots and panic ensued. My husband insisted that I should run with our three children while he hurried home to get food and money. We later met up in another village, and then trekked from place to place for over one month before we got a commercial bus to Yola. We left Yola for Jos after Mubi fell because of the fear of an imminent attack on Yola.

    My father and father-in-law were too old to run with us so both were left behind in Michika. I later heard that from neighbors who escaped that my father was killed by Boko Haram when he fled to Kwapala. We still do not know the whereabouts of my 85-year-old father-in-law.

    Boko Haram Attack in Yelwa, Bauchi State

    Residents of Yelwa, in the Darazo local government area, fled in July 2014 after over 100 armed men surrounded the mosque where male villagers were praying during the holy month of Ramadan, according to witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch. The men informed the worshippers that they were Boko Haram and that for the next nine months their group would occupy the nearby wooded area called Kukabiu. A 29-year-old woman from Yelwa said that when the armed men arrived in early June, they warned villagers not to allow their children to go to school:

    They warned us that no one should teach, but because I am educated with a diploma in legal studies I want my children to also go to school. The strangers came back repeatedly to beat and harass our vigilante men [who were trying to protect the village]. Then one day, they burned down all the schools in our community. When dozens of soldiers and vigilantes failed twice to push the insurgents out of the nearby Kukabiu forest, we knew we were no longer safe. Everyone in the village fled out of fear that the insurgents would retaliate against us for reporting them to the military. I and thirteen members of my family are now squatting in this one room. I have qualifications to work but there are no jobs for us here.

    Forced Recruitment by Boko Haram

    A 30-year-old woman from Potiskum in Yobe State, told Human Rights Watch she and her family of eight were forced to flee to Bauchi in July 2014 because Boko Haram was killing people in the area, forcibly recruiting young men and kidnapping women:

    We left Potiskum in July 2014 when we realized that there was no protection from Boko Haram. When they attack, everyone will run away, including soldiers and vigilante members. Those who did not run were forced to join the group. The new recruits would later return to take their wives and children by force to the Boko Haram camp and they were never seen again. I became afraid because my daughter was engaged to be married to a young man. What if he joined Boko Haram and takes her with him? So we fled with her to Bauchi. We don’t know what has become of her fiancé.

    A 24-year-old man from the village of Damaturu in Yobe State said:

    I began to notice changes in some of my friends who I grew up with in Damaturu. Initially we heard preaching about jihad, but those doing it hid the fact that they had joined Boko Haram. They targeted men and boys between 16 and 30. I panicked when I saw that my friends who yielded to the pressure would not only move to the insurgents’ nearby camp, but also take their wives and children with them.

    I became confused and afraid but I did not want to join because of the bad things they were doing. I don’t think they truly fear God. The new recruits were forced to extort, steal, kidnap, and rape women and girls. When they threatened to kill me if I did not accept to join, my mother got some money to transport me and three of my younger brothers who were also being pressured by the insurgents. We left Damaturu to stay with our uncle in another state that night and have not returned home.

    A 14-year-old boy from Yelwa, Bauchi State, described what happened when Boko Haram came to his village in June 2014:

    I was afraid when Boko Haram came to the mosque in my village to preach during the fasting period. There were children around my age and younger with them carrying guns. The young fighters joined them to burn down the primary school where I was a student. When they began to harass our village emir to volunteer 10 young men to join their group, we all abandoned the village. No one stayed back, not even the emir. We are scattered in different places but most of us are in Bauchi. I want to return to school, but have not had the opportunity.

    Attacks on Schools by Boko Haram

    Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden,” has attacked schools and abducted students and teachers from schools since early 2012.

    Displaced people told Human Rights Watch that they had seen child fighters during Boko Haram attacks on their communities in Borno State, and that Boko Haram had burned school buildings. As a result of the attacks on schools and the killing of students and teachers, Borno State authorities had closed down schools in March 2014 without providing alternatives. The army later used a number of schools that were still standing as military bases, resulting in further attacks on the schools by Boko Haram.

    Many displaced people expressed concern that their children were unable to go to school in camps for displaced people and host communities. The attacks on schools and the limited educational opportunities for displaced children have further impeded access to education for already disadvantaged school-age children in the northeast. According to the most recent National Education Data Survey, in 2010 children in northeast already made up more than 60 percent of Nigeria’s estimated 10.5 million children who are not in school.

    A 36-year-old teacher who fled the village of Waga Mongoro village, near Madagali, Adamawa State, said Boko Haram attacked his village on May 12, 2014, and burned down the school where he taught:

    They came from the direction of Limankara, Borno State, where they killed many people, and kidnapped the pregnant wife and two children of my friend, a pastor. Once we heard that the insurgents had blown up the bridge linking Adawama with Borno State, the men of Waga fled to the hills. We only returned during the day to work and to eat. When in August Boko Haram attacked Limankara again, sacking the Mobile Police training academy, fear began to rule our lives.

    The military tried to stop the insurgents from coming into Adamawa State but we were shocked to see them driving back with full speed on the armored personnel carriers two days later, shooting in the air. We took this as signal to escape and fled to a primary school in Tur, near the Nigeria/Cameroon border. Again Boko Haram fighters attacked Tur and burned down the school so we fled to Ville.

    Unfortunately, the insurgents seemed to be on our trail as they struck Ville, burning down schools and other buildings. My family scattered in different directions…. In early January 2015, my wife and other three children who were stuck elsewhere were able to join me in Jos. We have been here for about one month now and my children are missing out on their education. I am concerned as a father and a teacher that I am unable to help them. I can only hope that their future would not be wasted.

    Nigerian Military Use of Schools

    Nine witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that soldiers took over closed schools in the Borno communities of Chinene, Ngoshe, Ashigashiya, Wuje, Pulka, and Gwoza, among others.

    In some locations, including Gwoza, the use of school buildings as military bases appears to have led to Boko Haram attacks on the schools.

    A 42-year-old man displaced from Khalawa village in Gwoza, Borno State, said:

    Soldiers were using the primary school in Chinene, Wuje primary school at Pulka junction for about three months, and the government secondary school in Ngoshe, all in Gwoza, as military bases. They were stationed in Chinene for close to two months, from April to June 2014. I saw soldiers taking five men they arrested from Barawa and Dogode for being members of Boko Haram into Chinene primary school. They detained them there for some days before taking them away in a military vehicle.

    The soldiers were later forced to evacuate the schools and the entire area when Nigeria Air Force jets were dropping bombs over the area. Many buildings including schools were destroyed during the air raids. Boko Haram fighters burned down the schools in Chinene and Ngoshe when they took over the towns in June.

    Under international humanitarian law, schools are generally protected from attack as civilian objects. But the presence of troops and weapons in a school can make a school a valid target for attack. Even in schools that are not attacked, military use can damage or destroy school infrastructure and education materials can be lost.

    The United Nations Security Council’s adopted Resolution 2143 (2014) encouraged all UN member states “to consider concrete measures to deter the use of schools by armed forces and armed non-State groups in contravention of applicable international law.” Children have the right to education under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to which Nigeria is party.

    Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict offer guidance to parties to conflicts on how to avoid the military use of educational facilities for military purposes and to mitigate the impact the practice can have on students’ safety and education.

    The Nigerian government should incorporate the provisions of the guidelines into domestic legislation, or into its military doctrine and policy, to help protect students in armed conflict. The Nigerian government should also take concerted steps to improve access to education for children in Nigeria, including for children displaced by conflict in the northeast.


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    Source: World Food Programme
    Country: Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria

    Spotlights

    Joint WFP/UNICEF workshops in Abuja, Nigeria:
    As part of a joint WFP/UNICEF project Strengthening Humanitarian Preparedness in High Risk Countries, WFP delivered two ICT Emergency Management capacity-building workshops in Abuja, Nigeria to a total of 42 participants in March. The participants were drawn from Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), State Emergency Management Agencies, the Nigerian Red Cross, UNDP and other government agencies. The objective of the workshops was to strengthen national capacity in planning, implementing and managing ICT solutions to support emergency preparedness and response efforts.

    • Cameroon: WFP is providing food to all refugees at the Minawao camp in the Far North. Food assistance was provided to approximately 31,000 refugees in Cameroon during the month of February. There was a significant influx of refugees into Cameroon in March. Earlier this month, WFP served some 6,000 children between the ages of 6-59 months. Seven day rations of High Energy Biscuits (HEBs) were distributed on 17 March to all refugees in Minawao camp.

    • Chad: WFP provided food assistance to approximately 7,000 Nigerian refuges in Chad during the month of February. WFP organized food distributions in early March to assist people affected by the attack of 13 February in Ngouboua. In total, 299 families were assisted by WFP with food rations for seven days. Food distributions will continue for the remaining 80 families initially registered by the government. After recent attacks in the Lake area, 2,703 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Bagasola and 2,025 persons who lost their homes during February’s attack in Ngouboua have been registered by Chadian Government. Due to security constraints in the area, WFP and its cooperating partners are unable to reach populations in Kaiga, Fitine, Djangole and Ngouboua, where nutrition activities are implemented. Many of the refugees in Ngouboua are in host communities.

    • Niger: WFP reached approximately 63,000 refugees in Niger during the month of February. On 13 March, WFP organized a technical coordination meeting with international NGOs. The aim was to better coordinate the food assistance response of the various actors on the ground. WFP’s partner ACTED carried out distributions on 16 March to the Sayam Forage camp (estimated to host 1,200 people).


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    Source: Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre
    Country: Nigeria

    Millions of Nigerians live in states where Boko Haram’s repeated attacks, Government counter-insurgency operations and inter-communal violence have led to an alarming amount of displacement. In the run-up to the elections, there are concerns that over 1.2 million displaced people will be unable to vote. During such a crucial time for the country, IDMC explains why IDPs should not be side-lined and must gain access to voting stations.

    As of February 2015, 1.2 million people were living in displacement across north-eastern Nigeria and parts of the Middle Belt. Despite provisions under the Kampala Convention that should protect IDP voting rights, the majority are unable to access polling stations.

    Many IDPs have lost their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) in flight or have not been able to register, as they are required to do so in their ward of residency. Others have not been able to replace their PVC as they cannot return to their place of origin. Reports from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) suggest that over 80 per cent of PVCs have been distributed, yet it remains unclear if IDPs are included in this figure.

    INEC previously assured that IDPs who were re-registered for voting in camps would be able to vote in their new locations. Yet, INEC recently announced that only IDPs in Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, and in areas under Government control will be mobilised to vote. In Borno, voting for IDPs will only be conducted in officially designated camps. This is particularly restrictive as up to 90 per cent of IDPs live with host families and have little access to re-registration, let alone a polling unit.

    Some worrying reports indicate that IDPs are being encouraged to return the place they were forced to flee in order to vote. The unstable conditions in these areas puts them at risk of renewed attacks and of becoming displaced again. This has been exacerbated by the fact that INEC distinguishes between IDPs fleeing direct attacks, who are granted access to re-registration in their places of refuge, and those preventatively fleeing in fear of the outbreak of violence, who must return to their areas of origin to vote. IDPs from areas liberated by the army, such as Mubi North, Mui South and Maiha local government areas in Adawama state have also been told to return to their areas of origin to vote.

    There have been some reports that there are tensions within some regions which could cause further displacement. For example:

    • Traditionally the presidency must rotate between candidates from the north and south of the country, meaning that someone from the north should be elected following President Goodluck Jonathan’s term. Since the majority of IDPs are currently in the north of the country, this could result in low voter turnout.

    • Twenty-one of Nigeria’s 36 states, including the entire north-east, have been declared critical hotspots for political violence, leaving residents in those states vulnerable to electoral disturbances and displacement. Furthermore, insecurity in the north-eastern regions has restricted some IDPs and other Nigerians living in unsafe areas from voting.

    • Boko Haram has also threatened to obstruct and sabotage the elections. If the group acts upon such threats, some 24.5 million people living in states under their constant attack are at heightened risk of being displaced.

    The 2015 elections in Nigeria could provide a unique opportunity to unite the country and to break the cycle of displacement that has ensued from past post-electoral violence. This however depends on an inclusive process, which enables IDPs to exercise their civic rights, and for other Nigerians to vote free of fear of attack or reprisals.

    For more information, visit IDMC's webpage on Nigeria.


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    Source: International Relations and Security Network
    Country: Mali

    MINUSMA operations in Mali confirm that peacekeeping missions are increasingly being conducted in complex and asymmetric environments. For Sofia Sebastian, how the UN addresses the dilemmas posed by such missions will have a big impact on which tools it has available to resolve future global security problems.

    By Sofia Sebastian for ISN

    In January, Head of UN Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous told the UN Security Council that the situation in northern Mali remains “extremely volatile” in light of the presence of terrorist groups and almost daily attacks on peacekeepers, including the latest rocket assault on a UN base on March 8. Since the initial deployment of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), a peacekeeper has been killed or wounded, on average, every four days, making northern Mali one of the deadliest settings for peacekeepers in recent history. The situation in Mali is illustrative of the complex and asymmetric environments in which peacekeeping missions have been deployed in recent years. How the UN addresses the dilemmas facing today’s peacekeeping missions will be critical in determining the future of peace operations and the tools available for the resolution of today’s most pressing global security challenges.

    Mali and MINUSMA

    The conflict in northern Mali is the result of several dynamics. These include political and territorial disputes (between rebels in the north, who demand autonomy, and a central government unwilling and unprepared to meet those demands), inter- and intra-communal tensions, deep-rooted corruption, fragile institutions, jihadi extremism, drug trafficking, and regional spill-over from neighboring countries. Libya’s unstable southern border, for example, has become a safe haven for terrorists – including possible ISIS training camps in the Libyan desert – and has contributed to increasing terrorist activities in the region. The complexity of the crisis lies in the intersection of these security challenges, particularly the nexus between local conflict dynamics, organized crime and jihadi extremism. In 2012, for example, northern Mali came under the control of several terrorist organizations with links to organized crime. The occupation caused significant population displacements and a number of human rights abuses, including public executions, forced marriages and prostitution, and the recruitment of child soldiers.

    A French intervention, launched in early 2013, succeeded in repelling the terrorists temporarily; but these organizations simply regrouped in Southern Libya or moved their activities to neighboring Niger. Terrorist activities resumed as soon as the French started to reduce their troop presence. While the north stayed outside the direct control of terrorists, vast parts of Kidal, one of the most unstable northern regions, remained under no single authority.

    MINUSMA was authorized in April 2013 to take over from a UN-sanctioned, African-led mission that faced significant financial and operational challenges to effectively implement its mandate. The UN mission was mandated to stabilize and reestablish state control throughout Malian territory, to protect civilians, and to support a peace process that is currently focused on the resolution of the north-south divide. While not directly authorized to confront terrorist organizations militarily (which was and still remains the primary goal of French forces), the UN Security Council authorized MINUSMA to deter threats and take active steps to prevent the return of armed elements as part of its stabilization activities. This specific task blurred the lines between more traditional peacekeeping and peace enforcement. The former involves the tactical use of force at the local level to defend the mandate while the latter entails a broader spectrum of coercive measures, including the use of force strategically, without the consent of the parties. The Security Council has rarely authorized peace enforcement mandates.

    As with numerous other UN missions, MINUSMA failed to meet its resource requirements from the start due to delays in the provision of troops, and struggled to operate in the midst of a terrorist-fighting environment with inadequate training, equipment, logistics, and intelligence. As of December 2014, only 76 percent of the authorized military personnel had been deployed and two of seven battalions complied with UN equipment and capacity standards. Shortfalls have been particularly dramatic in the face of ongoing asymmetric threats (many peacekeeper casualties could have been avoided with anti-IED vehicles). Safety and security restrictions have also kept all but a few civilian personnel from deploying north.

    MINUSMA has taken innovative steps to adapt to this hostile environment. Thanks to contributions by the Dutch, Swedes and Norwegians, the mission is now supported by the All Source Information Fusion Unit (ASIFU), a unique military intelligence unit designed to collect, analyze and provide timely and actionable intelligence. This unit should help peacekeepers react more rapidly to crises. MINUSMA is also using a trust fund to obtain IED-resistant equipment (including armored and mine-protected vehicles) and additional training for troops to help them operate more safely in this asymmetric environment. Weapon identification squads and operational mentoring and liaison teams – intended to support peacekeeping battalions with no experience in terrorist-fighting environments – have been recently engaged as well. The deployment of European troops, particularly a Dutch contingent of 350 troops (including 96 from Special Operations forces), along with three attack and four transport helicopters and the use of unarmed drones have also enhanced the mission’s intelligence gathering, operational capabilities and overall mobility.

    While all of these innovations and reinforcements have improved MINUSMA’s ability to conduct reconnaissance, intelligence and escort duties, there remain significant gaps in coverage in the north. The capacity of MINUSMA to act as an effective deterrence force in fulfillment of its mandate is thus in question. The security situation became so precarious at the end of 2014 that Mali’s Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop requested a more robust mandate for MINUSMA and urged the UN Security Council to send a rapid intervention force to effectively combat terrorism. An informal Security Council session on MINUSMA in November 2014, however, determined the mission’s mandate would not be altered. Council members remained divided between those in favor of granting enforcement capabilities and those who regard peacekeeping as primarily a political instrument in support of a peace process.

    Options for peacekeeping

    As the High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations – recently appointed by the UN Secretary-General to complete a thorough review of UN peace operations – progresses, MINUSMA’s challenges offer an opportunity to reflect on (and address) the dilemmas facing peacekeeping missions today, especially those operating in asymmetric and complex environments. There are three potential options. The first option entails a return to the foundational principles of peacekeeping (namely parties’ consent to a UN operation, impartiality, and non-use of force, except tactically in self-defense and in defense of the mandate). This option is popular in certain UN and policy circles that believe the abandonment of the principles of peacekeeping – especially the ability to act as an impartial mediator –brings serious consequences for the acceptance of peacekeeping missions and increase the risks to peacekeepers. This option, however, is impractical and unrealistic given today’s conflict operating environments (which may require peacekeepers to undertake offensive activities) and the Security Council’s increasing reliance on the UN in asymmetric environments where there is little peace to keep.

    The second option involves developing doctrine on UN peace enforcement operations as a separate category from peacekeeping. This option, however, would require a major doctrinal shift within the UN with significant normative, organizational, ethical and security implications, along with problems of legitimacy and preparedness. It would also be unlikely to succeed given the political dynamics within the UN. Russia and China, for example, have expressed reservations about recent peace enforcement mandates. Russia, in particular, warned against the growing emphasis on the military aspects of UN peacekeeping when MINUSMA’s mandate was authorized, and suggested this shift in approach might have “unpredictable and unclear consequences for the security of United Nations personnel and their international legal status.” Other UN members, especially from the Global South, see enforcement as a new form of colonialism.

    The third option reflects a compromise approach by providing peacekeeping operations with required resources and the policy, operational and political support needed to bridge the gap between needs and capabilities and between policy and practice. The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Field Support have recently launched various initiatives intended to better supply current peacekeeping operations. Member states need to ensure these initiatives move forward and donor countries need to provide and rapidly deploy these capacities.

    Further work on the policy and doctrinal side would still be needed. More specifically, this middle-ground approach entails the development of doctrinal principles on the use of offensive capabilities for peacekeeping missions that operate in asymmetric and war-fighting environments. Policy and operational guidelines on how to use versatile force to match diverse threats and levels of violence and implement force protection measures will also be essential. The UN should also consider the inclusion of regional and border responsibilities in peacekeeping mandates, especially in situations that require responses that go beyond the “nation-centric” peacekeeping model such as in the fight against transnational crime and terrorism. Last but not least, further guidance and support will be needed in the use of certain capabilities, including new technology, intelligence gathering, standby and quick-reaction capabilities, and force enablers.

    All of this will require critical consensus within the UN. The members of the High Level Panel should bear this in mind and work with the Security Council and the member states that provide troops and police forces for peacekeeping operations. Only when the UN addresses these gaps will peacekeeping operations such as MINUSMA be able to operate more safely in asymmetric environments and effectively manage conflicts that may in part, or periodically, require use of force beyond the tactical.

    Sofía Sebastián is a TAPIR Visiting Fellow in the Future of Peace Operations program at the nonpartisan Stimson Center. This article is based on research conducted for the Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance.


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    Source: British Broadcasting Corporation
    Country: Nigeria

    Nigeria's two main presidential candidates have signed an agreement to prevent violence in tightly contested elections due on Saturday.

    Ex-military ruler Abdulsalami Abubakar brokered the deal in talks between President Goodluck Jonathan and his main challenger Muhammadu Buhari.

    Read the full story here


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    Source: Al Jazeera
    Country: Nigeria

    More than 800 people were killed and 65,000 displaced in religion-based election violence in 2011 in the central city.

    Jos, Nigeria - Sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims has led to deaths and destroyed property for more than a decade in this city, and people here fear another outbreak ahead of Saturday's election.

    Read the full article here


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Nigeria

    Bama, Nigeria | | Thursday 3/26/2015 - 18:20 GMT

    by Nichole SOBECKI

    The devastation is visible from the air in Bama. Corrugated iron roofs lie ripped off among charred debris, the walls of the houses blackened with soot or in ruins.

    On the dusty roads that separate properties in the second-biggest town in Borno state, northeast Nigeria, the sight -- and smell -- is much worse, with evidence of atrocities everywhere.

    The Nigerian military forced out Boko Haram from Bama earlier this month. As they did so, locals who managed to escape said the Islamists set fire to homes, including the emir's palace.

    But clearly much worse happened -- and the evidence is on the streets, beneath them and in the parched fields beyond.

    Troops find the decomposing body of a man in a sewer, in the foetal position surrounded by trash and human waste. Soldiers cover their noses as more remains are found elsewhere.

    "You can see dead bodies," Bama resident Abdul Maliki Yakuba told AFP. "If you go around the town you can see dead bodies. Many people have been killed."

    Battle-hardened troops find the scale of the slaughter hard to comprehend.

    "It's unbelievable that human beings could do this to fellow human beings," said Lieutenant Colonel Abu Bakar Haruna. "You can see on the bridge, just bodies littered.

    "In the town you saw bodies all over. So it's something that someone can just say, 'why?', 'how?'. And it's a difficult thing."

    • 'A horrible battle' -

    Testimony previously gathered from residents who fled Bama bear witness to the horrors of life under Boko Haram's self-proclaimed caliphate after they took over the town last September.

    "Bama was hell," mother-of-four Jummai Mumini recalled on March 16 in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, 73 kilometres (45 miles) away where she fled as the military inched closer.

    Others said dozens of women who were forced to marry Boko Haram fighters were slaughtered by their "husbands" before the battle began.

    Dozens of women's bodies littered the streets, the Islamists adamant that they would not allow their wives to re-marry men who did not share their radical ideology, residents said.

    Many of the estimated 7,500 people who fled are now in Maiduguri, in a makeshift camp of little more than a few dilapidated buildings in a clearing of neem trees on the outskirts of the city.

    Many are children, the girls dressed in the long hijab and colourful print wrappers widely seen in the region, the boys in oversized men's shirts, thin-waisted jeans and worn flip-flops.

    Not everyone has fled Bama, though. Those who remain have set up on pavements, prayer mats, bags and jerry cans of fuel or water spread out on the burnt earth.

    Others seek shelter from the harsh sun in the shade of a burned-out car, watching and waiting as camouflaged troops roll by in armoured personnel carriers.

    Off-duty soldiers languish in plastic chairs. A tank lies idle in the sand after what Haruna called "a horrible battle".

    "We did our best to ensure that we expelled the BHTs (Boko Haram terrorists) from Bama, and we have successfully done that," he said.

    "And by the grace of God we'll ensure that we maintain security and ward off their efforts to come into Bama again."

    • 'We just need help' -

    Security is still uppermost in the minds of both the military and locals, with Boko Haram pushed out of the town but to who knows where.

    Three men discovered trying to enter Bama are blindfolded and bundled into a pick-up truck; troops carefully inspect the former emir's palace, which Boko Haram used as a headquarters.

    Repeat raids by the militants are feared, despite Nigeria's military and its coalition partners Chad, Cameroon and Niger finally making gains and recapturing territory.

    "You will see the level of alertness of the troops here," said Nigeria's military spokesman Major-General Chris Olukolade.

    "You will see that every approach is being manned. There is regular patrol, very aggressive patrol, not just within the town but also the suburbs.

    "And this is in anticipation of subsequent threats. We're not giving chances at all. This town must not fall again."

    For the people of Bama, security is everything if they are to rebuild their shattered lives and allow those who fled in fear of their lives will return.

    "We just need help from the government to help rebuild the town, so that these people will come back to the town," said Yakuba.

    video-phz/bs/txw

    © 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    Bamako, Mali | | Thursday 3/26/2015 - 22:49 GMT

    Hundreds of supporters of exiled former Malian president Amadou Toumani Toure, who was overthrown in a military coup in 2012, called for his return on Thursday in rallies held in several cities.

    The gathering in the capital Bamako drew more than a thousand people, according to an AFP reporter at the scene, many of them wearing t-shirts emblazoned with a picture of Toure, who is known by his initials ATT.

    Smaller crowds also gathered in the central city of Mopti and the northern city of Gao, witnesses said.

    "ATT must be allowed to come back without any trouble... for the sake of peace and national reconciliation," said one of the organisers, Oumar Toure.

    Ex-president Toure, who came to power in 2002, fled to Senegal after being overthrown by a military junta in 2012 just as he was preparing to end his final term in office.

    He was accused by the soldiers of failing to tackle an Islamist insurgency in the north of Mali.

    The coup led by Amadou Sanogo toppled what had been heralded as one of the region's most stable democracies and precipitated the fall of northern Mali to Al-Qaeda-linked groups until a French-led military operation in 2013 forced them out of the towns.

    The government of current President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has sought to prosecute Toure for "high treason".

    sd/cs/mba/mfp/jom

    © 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: UN Children's Fund
    Country: Nigeria

    Situation of displaced people in North-East in numbers

    880,199
    TOTAL NUMBER OF INTERNALLY DISPLACED PEOPLE LIVING IN CAMPS (SOURCE: IOM, FEBRUARY 2015)

    148,484
    TOTAL NUMBER OF INTERNALLY DISPLACED PEOPLE LIVING IN HOST COMMUNITIES (SOURCE: IOM, FEBRUARY 2015)

    43
    NUMBER OF IDP CAMPS IN NORTH-EAST (SOURCE: IOM, FEBRUARY 2015)

    UNICEF Mobilization

    $3.24 MILLION* MOBILIZED FOR NORTH-EAST NIGERIA OUT OF $26.51 MILLION REQUIRED TO COVER THE NEEDS UNTIL END OF 2015 (AS PER UNICEF REQUIREMENTS IN THE HAC 2015).

    HUMAN RESOURCES: SCALING UP OF UNICEF PRESENCE IN THE FIELD

    • UNICEF opened an office in Maiduguri, Borno State in December 2014 to scale up response.

    • Two internationals recruited, including the Chief of Field Office.

    • National Health Specialist is recruited in Maiduguri Office to support the emergency response in Yobe and Borno states.

    • Surge capacity provided by MSB, CANADEM, and Norwegian Refugee Council to support UNICEF sector leads in information management and State-level emergency coordination • Surge capacity provided by the UNICEF Sri Lanka office to support Child Protection in Emergencies


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    Source: European Commission Humanitarian Aid department
    Country: Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Mali

    The activities proposed hereafter are still subject to the adoption of the financing decision ECHO/WWD/ BUD/2015/01000

    AMOUNT: EUR 12 000 000

    0 . MAJOR CHANGES SINCE PREVIOUS VERSION OF THE HIP ECHO Flight annual budget is around around € 11.5 M for 12 months for Kenya and DRC only. Early 2014, ECHO Flight has also offered air transport services in Mali and Chad. Since 01/01/2015 ECHO Flight is still present in 3 countries as the Chad operation has been closed end of 2014. The initial 2015 budget allocation of € 6.79 M does not allow covering the needs till the end of 2015. ECHO partners are requesting more and more the services of ECHO Flight in particular in Mali and Kenya, while the activity in DRC remains very high with 3 planes covering the regions where ECHO is funding projects, notably with an increased focus on Katanga, which require additional efforts from ECHO-Flight. The security and state of local infrastructures are the main reasons of having ECHO Flight and the situation related to these two aspects are certainly not going to improve in 2015. On the contrary, they have deteriorated in Mali and Kenya. It is therefore expected that ECHO Flight services will be necessary throughout 2015. To cover the operational needs until the end of January 2016 (ECHO Flight contract cannot end on 31/12/2015 for practical reasons linked to the continuity of the service contract and the non-retroactivity option), a total of € 12 M are required. This amount also takes into account 40 additional flying hours/month for Mali.

    The additional amount of € 5.21 M will allow the ECHO Flight operations in 3 countries to be implemented for 10 months till 31/01/2016


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    Source: Food and Agriculture Organization
    Country: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Nigeria

    FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

    • Provisional estimates point to a reduced cereal production in 2014

    • Inflation rates increased in 2014 due to higher fuel prices

    • Dire humanitarian situation among refugees from Central African Republic (CAR) and Nigeria impacting also host communities

    March rains help start the cropping season

    According to satellite imagery, seasonal rains started in March in southern parts of the country, allowing the sowing of the first maize crop of 2015. The planting of coarse grains will progress northwards following the onset of the rains.

    In the absence of official forecasts, the 2014 aggregate cereal production is tentatively put at about 3 million tonnes, 3 percent down on the previous year’s output and similar to the average of the previous five years. The decline in cereal production was due to erratic and below-average rains in several parts of the country.

    Inflation rates increased in 2014

    According to the IMF, the average inflation rate, which was estimated at a low of 2 percent in 2013, increased to 3.2 percent in 2014, mainly due to an increase in fuel retail prices.

    In the last several years, rates of inflation were highly volatile, varying from a low of 1 percent in 2007 to 5 percent in 2008 and then declining to 3 percent and 1 percent in 2009. Rates rose again in 2011 to 3 percent, declining to 2.4 percent in 2012.


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