With the crisis entering its ninth year and showing no signs of abating despite recent efforts, 10.7 million people continue to be in urgent need of life-saving assistance across north-east Nigeria, far-north Cameroon, Western Chad and south-east Niger. Nearly 2.4 million people are displaced with fresh waves of violence and human rights abuses resulting in thousands arriving into congested sites on a weekly basis. Destruction of infrastructure and limited access to basic services due to insecurity have resulted in people having limited or no access to food, water, shelter, health, education and protection leaving them dependent on aid and in need of assistance to rebuild their communities and their ability to provide for their families.
Political attention must remain focused on the ongoing crisis in the Lake Chad Basin. Despite efforts to date, the level of acute emergency needs continues to exceed available resources. Renewed support is needed to empower affected communities as agents of their own change and build on existing coping mechanisms. In order to bend the vulnerability curve and bring communities on to the path of sustainable development, community led resilience and development-orientated activities need to be scaled up in parallel to urgent life-saving assistance. Therefore, we the undersigned, request the Lake Chad Basin Governments to:
1/ Recognise affected communities as their own agents of change and enable a genuine shift to a community-centred approach ensuring accountability through the promotion of inclusive dialogue, inclusion and feedback.
2/ Explore immediately collective alternatives to military solutions for stabilising communities and set a precedent for rebuilding trust through the genuine engagement of communities to own solutions to the challenges they are facing.
3/ Reinforce the critical role of youth and women in reconciliation and reintegration processes and commit to promoting social cohesion programming. Programming for reintegration of vigilantes and former combatants, including through increasing economic opportunities, training and education, must involve the community.
4/ Refrain from harming civilians and ensure all civilians, especially women, children and other vulnerable groups, are protected through the development and implementation of accountability policies and frameworks. Further, all military activities, including military screening centres, must be in line with international law and norms.
5/ Lift excessive military restrictions on freedom of movement and enable safe passage so that communities can access their livelihoods, including fishing, farming and markets, and so that cross border trade can resume.
6/ Ensure all organised movement, including return, whether within borders or cross border, is voluntary, safe, dignified and informed. This includes implementing existing national coordination systems and frameworks, such as the Tripartite Agreement, and strengthening information sharing and consultations with affected communities.
7/ Uphold the rights of all citizens and safeguard their right to vote in a free and fair manner by ensuring all citizens are able to obtain civil documentation or, in cases where it has been lost, stolen or confiscated, replace necessary documentation.
8/ Provide leadership for deliberate action and ensure transparent and accountable allocation of resources to address the root causes of the crisis whilst also addressing the increasing humanitarian needs. Further, all levels of government must take the lead in monitoring the activities of their state and federal counterparts to ensure funds are used effectively to address the needs of the most vulnerable.
9/ Develop basic services, including schools and health facilities, and ensure as well as sustain an increased presence of civilian authorities and local government structures in rural areas.
10/ Establish regular platforms for exchange between government and civil society in order to address regulatory challenges and the use of violent security measures as well as to ensure legislation and frameworks are inclusive of the needs of all citizens.