This short brief provides a snapshot of critical concerns from operational NGOs in the north–east and presents key recommendations to the Federal Government of Nigeria, to urgently prioritise and effectively ensure, with support from the international community, the protection of civilians in north-east Nigeria.
Commending the Federal Government of Nigeria (GoN) on their dedication to provide assistance to civilians and wanting to further strengthen our collective response, the operational NGOs in north-east Nigeria call on the GoN to:
- Explore immediately alternatives to military solutions for stabilising communities including through consolidating peace dialogues and rebuilding trust with communities.
- Re-deploy civilian authorities to government controlled Local Government Areas (LGAs), including police, judiciary, civil registry officials and teachers.
- Support the humanitarian community to expand access, including recognising the importance of negotiated access with all conflict parties and lifting heavy civilian movement restrictions (where appropriate).
- Work closely with mine action partners to ensure access for surveying outside government controlled areas, marking hazardous areas and clearing explosives.
- Sign Communique with the Humanitarian Coordinator to address the regulatory challenges impeding our operations.
- Work with the humanitarian community, State government, security forces and traditional leaders to identify, allocate and secure land to decongest camps and enable building of critical services in key locations. This includes investing resources in exploring expansion of perimeters of ‘garrison towns’.
- Ensure all civilians, especially women, children and groups with specific vulnerabilities, are protected through the development and implementation of accountability policies, including the endorsement of the National Policy on Protection of Civilians and Civilian Harm Mitigation and the Child Rights Act.
- Ensure screening processes are in accordance with international standards including increasing female personnel, transferring children to specialised authorities, publishing a registry of all detainees, and allowing immediate access by protection monitors.
- Domesticate the Kampala Convention and ensure full support to the Borno State Government to implement the endorsed Borno Returns Strategy.
- Strengthen civil-military coordination and increase commitment to protection of civilians by integrating protection principles into training and immediately release the findings of the Report of Presidential Investigative Panel on Human Rights Abuses in the Military.