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News > Nigeria

Violence in Northwestern Nigeria Is Causing Humanitarian Crisis

  • MSF team during a meeting with people in Zamfara, Nigeria, June 4, 2021.

    MSF team during a meeting with people in Zamfara, Nigeria, June 4, 2021. | Photo: Twitter/ @MSF_WestAfrica

Published 4 June 2021 (4 hours 2 minutes ago)
Opinion

Among the factors driving the conflict are competition for natural resources, policies favoring farmers over pastoralists, and small arms traffic.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Friday warned that violence between herders and farmers in Nigeria's Zamfara state is displacing thousands of people to areas where food and shelter are scarce.

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"Our teams in Zamfara have seen an alarming increase in preventable diseases associated with lack of food, clean water, shelter, and vaccinations," said Dr. Godwin Emudanohwo from a hospital in Anka. 

Violent disputes between nomadic pastoralists and farmers have been exacerbated by the infiltration of jihadist groups into local communities. According to a report published in May 2020 by the International Crisis Group (ICG), violence in Zamfara had killed over 8,000 people and displaced 200,000. 

Among the factors driving the conflict are competition for land and water resources, climate change, policies favoring farmers over pastoralists, population growth, and the booming trade in small arms.

In the first four months of 2021, MSF teams located in Anka, Zurmi, and Shinkafi provided care to 10,300 children with severe acute malnutrition, measles, malaria, diarrhea, and respiratory infections. This figure represents an increase of 54 percent over the number of sick children in the same period last year.

Sexual violence, armed robberies, and murders have also increased. Between January and April, MSF teams in Zamfara treated over 100 victims of sexual violence, most of whom were women, but there were also cases of men being assaulted. 

"The survivors are too scared to use the roads. So they usually arrive at our clinics too late to prevent sexually transmitted infections. They arrive with severe mental trauma and a desperate need for protection," explained Dr. Noble Nma, medical officer at Shinkafi.

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