Nigeria is a country riven with inequality. 85% of the population survive on less than $2 a day, and certain regions, especially the North East, are far behind the rest of the country in terms of development.
Strong economic growth has not translated into improved living standards for the vast majority of the population, 60% of whom live in absolute poverty, an increase from 52% in 2004. In the north of the country, poverty levels are 40% higher than in the southern states. Nigeria has the highest number of children out of school in the world, and many of these are in northern Nigeria.
Locked into a destructive cycle of poverty, underdevelopment and instability, northern Nigeria has been wracked by violence for many years, of which Boko Haram is just one manifestation. Their brutal attacks and abductions of women have earned them notoriety, but global media coverage barely scratches the surface of the insurgency, which includes killings, sexual violence, destruction of homes and livelihoods and other abuses on a vast scale. Despite recent victories by the Nigerian government, and claims they are now on the run, Boko Haram continues to wreak havoc across the North East of the country.
In addition to Boko Haram, Nigeria is struggling to control violence between Fulani herdsmen and regional farmers across the country. An escalation in violence over the last year has led the current conflict to overtake the Boko Haram insurgency as the most deadly crisis in Nigeria. With neither crisis lessening in intensity, Nigeria currently has over two million Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in addition to those that have fled the country all together.
The Nigerian Government has proved largely ineffective in curbing these insurgenies, and have themselves been implicated in severe human rights violations including extra-judicial killings, torture and arbitrary detention.
We hope to visit our partners again in Nigeria before the end of the year. More information will follow.