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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations
© European Union (photographer: Samuel Ochai)



In Northeast Nigeria, 8.4 million people require humanitarian aid. According to the latest Cadre Harmonisé projections, 4.4 million people there could struggle to find enough food during the lean season (June-August 2023) without humanitarian assistance, which is 25% higher than a year ago.

According to the United Nations, the conflict in the Northeast has already claimed 350,000 lives, with an additional 314,000 casualties due to indirect causes. Violence has led to widespread forced displacement and acute violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

What are the needs?

There are various components to the crisis in Nigeria: (i) insurgency in the Northeast, (ii) surging banditry violence in the Northwest, (iii) incessant inter-community conflict in the Middle Belt, and (iv) a growing Cameroonian refugee population in the South.

The ongoing conflict between non-state armed groups and government forces in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states in the northeast, in its 12th year, has resulted in acute humanitarian needs:

  • 2.2 million people displaced internally and more than 345,000 in neighbouring countries – the majority living in makeshift settlements or highly-congested camps, relying mostly on local communities, authorities, and humanitarian organisations
  • disturbing levels of food insecurity with a risk of famine in some areas
  • worsening nutrition situation in the Northeast and the Northwest, exacerbated by the economic consequences of COVID-19
  • poor sanitation due to the ongoing rains.

Due to the hostilities and access constraints, aid workers cannot reach an estimated 1.2 million people in the northeast. These issues hinder the delivery of life-saving assistance, crucial in view of the alarming levels of food insecurity.

Humanitarian workers continue risking their lives to deliver aid to those in need. In 2019, 12 humanitarian workers were executed by non-state armed groups and 4 others were killed in 2020, with frequent security incidents against humanitarians. In 2022, 3 humanitarian workers have been victims of targeted abductions.

Map of Nigeria

How are we helping?

The EU is one of the leading contributors of humanitarian aid in Nigeria. In 2023, the EU has allocated €34 million in humanitarian aid.

In 2022, the EU mobilised €61 million in humanitarian assistance. This included an indicative amount of €9 million from the European Development Fund to address the food crisis following Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.

Since 2014, the EU has provided close to €437 million to help people in need in the country, including €57.8 million in 2021. Part of EU humanitarian funding is used to address food insecurity.

We provide immediate assistance to cover the basic needs of the most vulnerable internally displaced people and host communities in the country. The EU also supports refugees in other countries affected by the conflict in Nigeria, namely Cameroon (Far North region), Chad (Lake region), and Niger (Diffa region).

EU humanitarian aid in Nigeria helps to meet the basic needs of the conflict-affected people by supporting emergency food aid, shelter, access to clean water, hygiene and sanitation, basic primary healthcare, protection and education.

The EU currently funds food assistance in the form of cash transfers, vouchers, and food rations for families, ready-to-use therapeutic food, and essential medicines to treat severely malnourished children.

To facilitate humanitarian access to people in need, the EU supports the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) which enables aid workers to reach isolated areas.

Given the special protection needs of women and children that arise in conflict situations, apposite community-based services receive EU funding. The aim is to:

  • provide the necessary psychosocial support and referral services to unaccompanied children and victims of gender-based violence
  • help former child soldiers released from armed groups to reintegrate into society.

Among the EU-funded actions are also projects that give children trapped in humanitarian crises a basic education alongside essential school supplies.

The EU is supporting preparedness initiatives in disaster-prone areas in Nigeria. These help vulnerable people better prepare for and reduce the impact of recurring natural hazards, such as epidemics and floods. Through these projects, communities receive essential information about risks and prevention. This strengthens the local response through planning and preventive actions.

In addition, the European Commission is providing €100 million in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of vaccination campaigns in countries in Africa with critical humanitarian needs and fragile health systems. €10 million out of this funding will be supporting vaccination campaigns for the most vulnerable in West and Central Africa.

Beyond trying to meet immediate humanitarian needs, joint efforts with development partners are required to help build long-term resilience. Nigeria is an EU pilot country for projects bringing together humanitarian, development, and peace-building dimensions to address the needs of vulnerable people and offer them social protection through a more long-term and holistic approach.

Through its development assistance, the EU aims to build long-term resilience in conflict-affected communities by addressing the underlying causes of violent conflict, supporting basic services and helping people to support themselves.

Last updated: 23/01/2023

Facts & figures

8.4 million people need humanitarian assistance in Northern Nigeria (UNOCHA)

2.2 million forcibly displaced Nigerians and 1.9 million returnees (IOM)

1.2 million people cut off from assistance (UNOCHA)

4.4 million people in the northeast with insufficient food availability (Cadre Harmonisé)

EU humanitarian funding:
€34 million in 2023
€61 million in 2022
€437 million since 2014