Mbawa camp shelters


Continued violence and armed conflict in Nigeria’s Borno state has uprooted more than two million people.

MSF has been responding to disease outbreaks and emergency health needs in Nigeria for many years, focusing on maternal and paediatric healthcare throughout the country and scaling up our activities in the northeast as vast numbers of people caught up in the conflict depend on aid to survive.

Why are we here?

Our activities in 2020 in Nigeria

Data and information from the International Activity Report 2020.

MSF in Nigeria in 2020 Escalating violence in Nigeria, especially in the northern states of Zamfara and Borno, led to a deterioration in the humanitarian situation, with thousands more people displaced and cut off from healthcare.
Nigeria Activities 2020

MSF continued to assist people affected by conflict and displacement across several states, while maintaining a range of general and specialist healthcare programmes.

Displacement and violence
Northeast Nigeria
In northeast Nigeria – particularly in Borno state – more than a decade of conflict between the Nigerian government and non-state armed groups has taken a severe toll. The United Nations estimates that more than 2.1 million people have already been displaced*, and the numbers continue to rise. More than a million have been completely cut off from aid for years. In 2020, as the situation deteriorated, a series of brutal mass murders and kidnappings took place, but only people living in government-controlled areas in Borno state were able to obtain assistance. In the areas we could access, we managed hospital emergency rooms, operating theatres, maternity units and paediatric wards, providing services such as treatment for malaria, tuberculosis, HIV and sexual violence, nutritional care, vaccinations and mental health support.

In Maiduguri, we manage a 72-bed therapeutic feeding centre treating severely malnourished children with medical complications. We also run a 65-bed paediatric hospital with a specialist intensive care unit, which is the only facility of its kind providing free healthcare in Borno. At these facilities, we treated thousands of children for malaria, measles, and malnutrition in 2020.

In addition, our teams provided treatment for malaria in displacement camps in Ngala and Banki, and delivered seasonal malaria prophylaxis in several locations across the state. We also offered specialist healthcare in Ngala to people in the town and in displacement camps. In Gwoza and Pulka, towns controlled by the Nigerian military, our teams supported emergency care in public hospitals. In both Pulka and Rann, we conducted thousands of outpatient consultations, mainly for acute diarrhoea related to a lack of clean water.  

Northwest Nigeria
Increasing violence and banditry in the northwestern states have driven people from their homes, forcing them to lose livelihoods, food sources and access to basic services. Around 100,000 people sought safety in the Zamfaran towns of Anka, Zurmi and Shinkafi, following an upsurge in fighting in 2018. In these towns, our teams conducted medical consultations, provided treatment for malaria and admitted thousands of children to our therapeutic feeding centres.

In Zamfara, we also continue to screen and treat for lead poisoning, a result of unsafe mining practices that put people, especially children, at risk. In 2020, we admitted 1,500 children for monitoring and treatment.

MSF supported several isolation facilities opened by the Ministry of Health across the country by renovating facilities, training medical staff on infection prevention and control measures, and providing treatment to patients. We also reinforced infection prevention and control measures, and adapted the triage and patient flow systems in our facilities to ensure the continuity of activities.  

In Kano state, where COVID-19 led to the closure of many health facilities, we conducted consultations in two general healthcare centres from June onwards. Nearly half were for malaria.

Women’s health
In Jahun general hospital in Jigawa state, we continued to offer comprehensive emergency obstetrics and neonatal care, as well as vesico-vaginal surgery for obstetric fistula. A total of 205 women underwent this procedure in 2020. MSF also gave logistical, technical and medical support to four centres providing basic emergency obstetric and neonatal care around Jahun.  

Noma is an infectious but non-contagious disease that particularly affects young children, with the infection destroying the bone and tissue of the lower half of the face if left untreated. Those who survive are left with severe disfigurement, which can only be corrected with extensive reconstructive surgery. In 2020, although COVID-19 restrictions had an impact on our noma activities, we were still able to perform surgery on 73 patients. Our care package for noma patients includes physiotherapy and nutritional support, and mental healthcare for both them and their families. MSF and the Ministry of Health also conduct outreach activities with a focus on early detection and referrals for noma patients in northwest Nigeria.

Benue and Rivers states
In 2020, the number of people displaced by violent clashes over land between farmers and herdsmen continued to rise. By the end of 2020, an estimated 197,000 people had fled their homes. Around half of them live in official camps in and around the Benue state capital, Makurdi. In 2020, MSF supported the health authorities by running a range of services in the camps, including general, reproductive and mental healthcare, nutritional support, health education, treatment for victims of sexual and gender-based violence, and vaccinations.

We also assisted with the response to outbreaks of cholera and yellow fever and improved water and sanitation. When COVID-19 arrived in Benue, we triaged suspected patients and organised referrals to public facilities. In two clinics in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, we offered comprehensive healthcare to victims of sexual violence, including prophylaxis for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, vaccinations for tetanus and hepatitis B, emergency contraception, and psychological and social support.

Lassa fever
In Ebonyi state, Lassa fever ─ an acute haemorrhagic illness ─ is endemic. In response to an outbreak, we assisted the state and federal ministries of health and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control by giving technical support, training staff and treating patients at a teaching hospital in Abakaliki. We also raised awareness within the community, conducted case tracing and decontaminated the homes of patients.

*UNHCR, Nigeria Emergency


In 2020
Lassa fever Health Promotion Activity

Tackling deadly and difficult-to-diagnose Lassa fever

Project Update 25 Feb 2022
STILLS - Lucky to be alive (La peur au ventre)

Amid hunger, people are “lucky to be alive” in northwest Nigeria

Documentary 15 Feb 2022
Lead poisoning and gold processing in Zamfara state, Nigeria, Ap

Prevention is key to stop children from dying of lead poisoning

Project Update 7 Feb 2022
Borno State – Pulka

MSF ends activities in Gwoza and Pulka

Interview 25 Aug 2021
IDP camp in Anka

Zamfara state gripped by humanitarian crisis as violence escalates

Press Release 3 Jun 2021
Carrying water from boreholes in Pulka IDP camp

Pulka, where water is the source of life… and disease

Project Update 16 Mar 2021
Treating a child during an outreach activity in Maiduguri

Extra-long malaria season in Borno claims lives

Project Update 14 Dec 2020
An orphan with grandmother in MSF Shinkafi hospital

Killings, looting and abductions in Zamfara state

Project Update 9 Dec 2020
MSF activities continue in Gwoza, Borno State

“Children can draw assault rifles better than a football” in Borno state

Interview 8 Sep 2020

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