© Reuters


10.6 million

people directly affected by the crisis in the north-east of the country

1,9 million

internally displaced people in the north-east states

5.6 million

people in need of basic health services

On the ground in Nigeria: humanitarian crisis

A humanitarian mission is urgently needed in Nigeria on both health and humanitarian grounds.

Civilians are the main victims of armed conflicts in Nigeria

North-eastern Nigeria is in the throes of a major humanitarian crisis due to the armed conflict engulfing the region. The violence between Boko Haram and Nigerian government forces began in 2009 in the north-east of the country (Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States) before extending beyond the borders to neighbouring countries around Lake Chad.

Since 2015, the Multinational Joint Task Force, comprising troops from Chad, Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Benin, has sought to protect the region’s main towns and cities and their populations but has not succeeded in putting an end to attacks against civilians, abductions and regular infiltration by armed groups into camps and villages. Since the beginning of the conflict in 2009, over 36,000 people have been killed in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States, thousands of women and girls have been abducted and hundreds of children have been used as ‘human bombs’.

A humanitarian emergency plan is needed in Nigeria to provide a range of help to civilians caught up in the conflict.

There are 1.5 million displaced people in Borno State in north-eastern Nigeria.

The violence and attacks against civilians, in a context already characterised by significant vulnerability factors, have led to large-scale population displacements and a major humanitarian crisis. There are 1.6 million displaced people in Borno State in north-eastern Nigeria, most of them women and children. The resources of the host communities are severely stretched. The displaced people, the majority of whom are living in overcrowded camps, have often lost their livelihoods and are suffering extreme poverty, with little hope of returning home in the near future. The conflict also has an impact on the scale and quality of the humanitarian response: the lack of security means there are 1.2 million people whom humanitarian organisations are currently unable to reach and these people are therefore receiving no assistance at all. It is very difficult to distribute medical aid in Nigeria.

A humanitarian crisis on an enormous scale in Borno State

The humanitarian situation in Borno State is alarming. It is currently estimated that 10.6 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and two thirds of healthcare facilities have been damaged or destroyed. Access to primary healthcare for both displaced people and for the host communities is very limited, owing to a lack of qualified healthcare staff and poor availability of drugs and medical equipment.

Increased epidemic risk due to several factors

The overcrowding, shortage of drinking water and poor hygiene conditions in the camps increase the risk of outbreaks of diseases such as cholera, measles and meningitis.

It is not only the physical health of communities in Nigeria that is affected by the humanitarian crisis, the conflict also has an impact on the mental wellbeing of people who have often experienced serious violence and trauma.

The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted existing vulnerabilities, particularly in relation to gender-based violence (GBV), as it made it more difficult for survivors to report their experiences, ask for help or receive effective services. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Nigeria has recorded 164,000 cases and 2,060 deaths.

Managing a baby in the MdM mobile clinic © Leslie Wright
Managing a baby in the MdM mobile clinic © Leslie Wright

Médecins du Monde’s response to the humanitarian emergency in Nigeria

In response to the alarming situation in Nigeria, in particular as a result of conflict and inequalities in access to healthcare, MdM has provided humanitarian assistance and, in particular, medical aid to the Nigerian people.


Medical assistance in Nigeria is essential

As part of our humanitarian mission in Nigeria, Médecins du Monde has been working in north-eastern Nigeria since late 2016, seeking to improve access to care for vulnerable groups both among displaced people and in host communities. Five clinics were established in the Maiduguri and Damboa camps to respond to the humanitarian crisis caused by the conflict.

Our teams provide free primary healthcare services, antenatal and postnatal consultations, routine vaccinations and nutritional care. They also offer medical and psychological support to survivors of gender-based violence, psychosocial support and individual mental health consultations and health education sessions.

MdM also supports two clinics run by the Nigerian Ministry of Health on the outskirts of Damboa in Borno State, a particularly dangerous area. This support takes the form of training and supplies of medications, enabling humanitarian assistance to be provided in an area to which few humanitarian actors have access.


A consultation in one of our mobile clinics © Leslie Wright
A consultation in one of our mobile clinics © Leslie Wright

Rolling out humanitarian activities in north-western Nigeria

In December 2020, Médecins du Monde conducted an exploratory mission in north-western Nigeria, in Zamfara State, where there are thousands of people displaced by high levels of insecurity. The aim is to help the Ministry of Health in Bukkuyum district in 2021 by supporting three health centres with nutrition and infant health services.

In 2020

our humanitarian mission in Nigeria provided:

  • 130,000 curative consultations
  • 34,000 antenatal consultations
  • 35,800 mental health and psychosocial support consultations (individual and group sessions)
  • care for 731 survivors of gender-based violence


our institutional support

Budget of Médecins du Monde’s humanitarian mission in Nigeria: €4 million
Le ministère des Affaires étrangères allemand (AAHH) soutient Médecins du Monde
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