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IDPs: The new homeless people in Nigerian cities


UNHCR (2019) reports that there are 70.8 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) globally. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Council (IDMC) 2019 global report submitted that within the African region, Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) at 16.5 million persons, has the highest rates of displacement, with countries like Ethiopia, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo having the highest numbers. However, Nigeria accounts for the highest number of displaced persons within the African region and one of the global highest rates. Since 2009, the Boko Haram crisis, as well as Fulani herdsmen violence, have made North-East Nigeria a war-torn zone, subject to a security crisis. To mitigate the vulnerabilities, IDP camps were set-up by the Nigerian government with support from civil society, donor agencies, and the international communities. The IOM report (2019) indicates that the harsh living conditions in the IDP camps are forcing many of the displaced population to move out and self-resettle by migrating to cities. This report also suggests that because this region is still a crisis zone, the structural resettlement efforts by the government which involve returning to previous places or nearby communities to former habitations are proving unproductive. As a result, this is prompting rapid migration from these crisis zones into cities, yet, very little is known about this self-help survival strategy, the process of such migration, and what happens to this demography in cities.


This report, which is based on interviews, participation observation, and focus-group discussions with 107 IDPs in four cities in Nigeria, seeks to examine the process and drivers of such migration, the role of the social network, and life in the city for this key population. It aims to provide a better understanding of how internal displacement is impacting urbanization and cities as part of durable solutions.

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Rebecca Enobong Roberts

Rebecca Enobong Roberts is a sustainable development expert and researcher from Lagos, Nigeria. She has a decade of experience in implementing and managing development projects across 23 states and with various vulnerable groups and communities in Nigeria. Her sectoral experience spans community organization, engagements and support, public health, education and human rights, urban informalities (informal livelihood and shelter), internal displacement, forced migration, youth development, public policy analysis, advocacy, project monitoring and evaluation, project management as well as multi-stakeholder engagement. She presently focuses on the intersectionalities between rapid internal displacement and the implications for migration and urbanization in Nigeria.

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