UN Migration Agency Supports Refugees Returning to Nigeria after Fleeing Boko Haram

As an immediate response to the influx of refugees returning to Pulka, IOM built several tents to protect families from sun and heavy rain. Photo: IOM/Julia Burpee 2016

Como respuesta inmediata al influjo de refugiados que retornan a Pulka, la OIM construyó varios toldos para proteger a las familias del sol y de las copiosas lluvias. Foto: OIM/Julia Burpee. 

As an immediate response to the influx of refugees returning to Pulka, IOM built several tents to protect families from sun and heavy rain. Photo: IOM/Julia Burpee 2016

Nigeria - From 24-31 May, the UN Migration Agency (IOM) registered more than 3,600 Nigerian refugees in the small Nigerian border town of Pulka after they returned from Cameroon. IOM is supporting the returnees – most of whom originate from Pulka – by providing shelter, non-food items and psychological first aid, and monitoring population movements.

Since early April, the Nigeria Immigration Service has registered the return of more than 12,000 Nigerian refugees from Cameroon. The Borno state government is directing many from congested entry points – notably, Banki, another border town – to Pulka, deemed to be their place of origin.

However, water supply is extremely limited in Pulka, as is shelter. The town also faces continuous security threats from Boko Haram. The humanitarian community expects the mass return could cause further displacement as returnees reclaim their houses, pushing out displaced families who took shelter in them and creating further housing challenges.

As an immediate response to the new arrivals in Pulka, IOM built awnings to shelter the families from extreme sun and heavy rain. Five hundred shelters will be built to relocate families living in a medical clinic to ease pressure on the town.

IOM is building another 500 shelters to house more than 3,000 people in Gwoza, a town 20km south of Pulka, where water is more accessible, making it better suited to host such an influx. IOM has drilled one well in Gwoza and has planned two others.

IOM has delivered household items for 1,000 families in Pulka to address the needs of the local community and the returnee population. The household kits include kitchen utensils, bedding, water purification tablets, soap, and other hygiene products. IOM teams are registering the new arrivals to assess numbers and shelter needs, and will do comprehensive biometric registration in Pulka next week.

This initiative is part of IOM’s growing rapid response to major challenges in Nigeria’s volatile north-eastern region, where Boko Haram violence has displaced more than 1.8 million people. The response also addresses challenges relating to increasing sand storms and heavy rain, which devastate camps and local infrastructure in the region.

Storms are also creating unforeseen challenges for local communities and displaced persons. Heavy rains in Maiduguri and nearby areas last week deprived at least 1,457 people of shelter. IOM will replace shelters that were completely destroyed and is also providing nearly 900 shelter kits, comprising tarpaulin, wood, nails, rope and tools, so families can repair damaged structures assisted by the Organization’s site facilitators. IOM is also repairing lavatories, as well as the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Centres and other camp facilities that were hit by storms.  

“These responses are guided by our Displacement Tracking Matrix team’s rapid assessments of needs and numbers, following storms and large-scale population movements,” explained Frank Santana, Rapid Assessment and Response Officer at IOM Nigeria.

“The best added-value we have in this emergency response is the ability to assess situations quickly and share information with partners,” he added, referring to IOM’s weekly Emergency Tracking Tool on population movement and flash reports, which follow incidents such as suicide attacks and storms.

For further information, please contact Julia Burpee at IOM Nigeria. Tel: +234 906 228 2406, Email: