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Community hosting is a preferred choice for many displaced persons due to unconducive nature of camps; the absence of formal camps; the greater opportunities for work, socialization, education and food production living in the local community offers and the physical, emotional, social, spiritual and economic security it offers. With a number of displaced persons choosing to live in the local communities, members of these communities are providing support and assistance needed for the survival and wellbeing of displaced persons living among them. They are providing services which are significant in saving lives and building the resilience of displaced persons.  They play an essential, and often unacknowledged, role in welcoming, supporting and assisting displaced persons at the very onset of displacement when no camps are in place and no humanitarian intervention available. This paper assesses how community hosting contributed to addressing the most basic needs and priorities of displaced persons living in local or host communities within Maiduguri in Nigeria. 

Literature review

Forced displacement results in urgent needs that require immediate responses (Derderian and Schockaert 2012). During forced displacement, IDPs face peculiar vulnerabilities  and have specific needs (Bohnet et al. 2013). They are, for example, “…at an increased risk of being separated from their families, and are particularly exposed to abuse during displacement…” (Kellenberger 2009: 476). This brings up their specific protection needs, which are due to the distinct vulnerabilities they face. Among their specific needs, they are “…commonly in need of special protection and assistance…” (Brun 2003: 376) and should therefore be viewed as an especially vulnerable category of people, entitled to protection and assistance as a matter of priority (ICRC 2006). Mustapha and Umara (2015: 48) suggest that IDPs are exposed to high risks and experience various forms of deprivation during forced displacement. This makes them “…more vulnerable than other citizens of their country…” (Brun 2003: 376). In addition, most IDPs outside the camps are unable “to meet their most basic needs” (Kellenberger 2009: 476; ICRC 2006: 3) by themselves.

The primary responsibility for “…protecting IDPs and meeting their basic needs lies with the State or the authorities that control the territory where the IDPs find themselves…” (Kellenberger 2009: 478). Though states have the primary responsibility to protect IDPs and meet their basic needs, very often governments are either unable or unwilling to fulfil this particular obligation (ICRC 2006: 4; Brun 2003: 376). This can result in large numbers of IDPs remaining “…exposed to further violence, malnutrition and disease, and [they] are often forced to flee several times” (Kellenberger 2009: 278). Where government has assistance programmes for vulnerable groups, the assistance available is “often insufficient for IDPs whose needs increase because of their displacement” (Beyani 2013: 5). In the case of Nigeria, where this study was conducted, ICRC (2016) recognizes that the Nigerian state, through its agencies, departments and ministries and with support from humanitarian actors (international, regional and local) is trying to respond to the various needs of IDPs as obligated under the Kampala Convention. Even so, the response “…is far from meeting the assistance and protection needs of IDPs” (ICRC 2016: 15). Additionally, the assistance provided by government can be dependent on beneficiaries having “local residency or identity document which IDPs may not be able to obtain” (Beyani 2013: 5). 

Principles for humanitarian relief stipulate that in situations where the state is unable or unwilling to fulfil its obligation to protect and assist IDPs, humanitarian actors (local and international) have an obligation to intervene (ICRC 2006). Although humanitarian actors – especially local organizations – may be more aware than the government of the specific concerns and needs of IDPs, they often lack the financial and logistical capacity to reach out to all the IDPs in time and in situations where they are able to assist IDPs living in host communities, or the assistance they provide is “adhoc and insufficient” (Beyani 2013: 1). Even in situations where specific assistance is provided for IDPs living out of camps, this 

“…tends to consist of one-off assistance, provided at the beginning of displacement, rather than the sustained assistance that is needed when people are displaced for long periods of time” (Beyani 2013: 5). 

Furthermore, due to limited access to services by IDPs, insecurity, the limited capacity of many governments to respond, and the lack of political will, and given IDPs mobility and the poor coordination of assistance among different agencies, overall IDPs tend to be hindered “… from receiving protection and assistance” (ICRC 2006: 4) from both State and humanitarian actors. 

Even if state and humanitarian actors are willing to provide protection and assistance for IDPs, those living outside of defined camp settings are “difficult to identify, protect and assist” (Beyani 2013: 4); this makes it difficult for them to be assisted and supported by State and humanitarian actors. In the absence of protection and assistance from state and humanitarian actors, the majority of IDPs seek refuge in host communities as an alternative coping mechanism (Davies 2012). In some countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), for example IDPs “…overwhelmingly favour hosting as a displacement response” (Rohwerder 2013: 3). As a result, many IDPs have depended on host communities for their survival and wellbeing and to address their most basic needs and rights concerns (Vigaud-Walsh 2016). As of December 2016, approximately “80 percent” (OCHA 2016: 6) of the over “1.8 million” (IOM 2017)

IDPs found in Nigeria were estimated to be living in host communities, with relatives, friends or with strangers in donated or independently rented houses (Skinner and Begum 2016; IOM (2017). 


Host communities are significant in providing IDPs with vital assistance in situations where humanitarian aid is hard to access; providing critical support in form of shelter, food, social networks and other forms of protection and assistance. IDPs choices and decision to opt for community hosting are linked to factors such as the absence of camps or formal settings and inaccessibility of camps. In Maiduguri, IDPs choice and decision to opt for community hosting over living in camps was influenced by unavailability of official camps at the onset of internal displacement; limited access to available official camps; the economic, social, physical and emotional security community hosting offers; the greater opportunities such as business in host communities; the unconducive nature and IDPs negative perceptions of official camps.



1.1 Background of the study

        It is a paradox that Nigeria is a rich country inhabited by the poor and accounts for about 13% (1.4 million) of Africa’s 11.1 million people internally displaced by conflict and generalized violence as at 10 January 2011 (NCFR). Between October 2010 – October 2011, NEMA accounted for a total of 377,701 IDPs in Nigeria. This does not include internal displacement induced by development projects that are regulated by states.

In Nigeria, most of the incidences of internal displacement occur because of violent conflicts with ethnic, religious and political undertones.

Recent findings have shown that the plight of Internally Displaced Persons in Nigeria is rooted in complex causes, phases and types of displacement; the need for return to a safe and secured environment and reintegration assistance, but unfortunately in a fragmented humanitarian response.

Recent statistical data, on the volume and spread of IDPs in Nigeria reveals the existence of about 1.4 million displaced persons that are being hosted by Akwa Ibom (200,000), Cross River (115,000), Ebonyi (80,000), Bauchi (45,000), Kebbi (50,000), Jigawa (200,000), Plateau (250,000), Taraba (25,000), Benue (48,000), Gombe (100,000), Edo (250,000), and Borno States (16,000).

Northern Nigeria consists of 19 out of 36 states clustered into 3 geo-political zones of North-West, North-East and North-Central. It is a region characterized in the last ten years by violent, ethno-religious and political conflicts, rising violent crimes and widespread corruption resulting into socio-economic and political insecurity and forced internal displacement of population largely due to bad governance, socio-economic and political imbalances, injustices and inequities, as well as insensitivity to the plight of their citizens.

In terms of absolute poverty line by geo-political zone, the North-East has retained the title of the poorest zone in Nigeria since 1985, with the highest incidence of poverty (Ranging between 54.9% – 72.2%) followed by the North-West and North-Central.

Recently, the North-East is reported to be the home of the state with the highest unemployment rate in the Federation, that is Yobe State at 60.6% as at the end of 2011.

Further, it is the zone with the highest number of IDPs totaling 11,360 in the 1st quarter of 2012; and in 2010-2011, with the 3rd highest number of forced displacement of internally displaced persons (IDPs) (about 22% or 82,000, North-West with 31% or 116,207 and North-Central with the highest 42.4% or 162,281 out of 377,701) due to identity-based conflicts – such as ethno-religious and political conflicts and violent clashes between the religious militia/armed group (Boko Haram) and Government forces. Hence within this period of coverage, the North accounted for 95% of IDPs in Nigeria.

Moreover, the N/E is the home of the paradox of Boko Haram, an armed group that promotes a sectarian violence of a different dimension that has engulfed the entire zone in the history of Nigeria – that is neither inter nor intra-religious but essentially against the western educated Muslim elite and government.

It is a paradox that such a movement that is opposed to the acquisition of knowledge emerged in Borno State, the capital of the Kanem – Borno Empire and the 1st Islamic State in pre-colonial Nigeria that was established on the basis of knowledge and excellence in scholarship, resulting in the movement’s distortion.

It is a paradox that such a situation should emanate from the minds of those who believe that they are asserting their religious identity, reforming Islam and restoring it to its pristine purity by maiming and killing innocent residents, destroying property and rupturing peace.

Some of the root causes of acts of kidnapping, terrorism and corruption etc in Nigeria needing urgent attention include: – a) poor implementation of constitutional measures to address past socio-economic and political injustices, inequities and imbalances and a feeling of, among the diverse Nigerian populace, a sense of marginalisation, discrimination, exclusion and disadvantage; (b) failure by the state to effectively prevent and control the proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) and their possession by militant sectarian and ethnic militia groups, among others; (c) the negative culture of do or die politics and the struggle for the sharing of national cake at the centre (distributive federalism) arising from undue concentration of power and resources at the federal level (centre) to the disadvantage and impoverishment of the federating units (states and LGAs); (d) rising unemployment rate among youths; (e) politicization of ethnicity and manipulation of religion by the elites for their selfish ends thereby providing a fertile ground for extremism, intolerance, ethno-religious violent conflicts and perpetual cycle of recriminations or revengeful killings.

Conflicts and crimes create enormous insecurity in the society with tremendous impact on individuals, social groups, communities and the nation in general. The impacts of the violent conflicts and crimes in the North on IDPs include:

•       Loss of thousands of lives and millions worth of property: examples include the recent tit for tat in the Jos carnage 2009-2012 and in Borno, Yobe, Kano and Kaduna states between 2010 – March 2012.

•       Social dislocations and displacement – Examples would include the recent Borno, Kano and Kaduna explosions of devices in which about 20,000 people were displaced from their homes, villages, communities and states.

•       Social tensions and new patterns of settlement – Muslims moving to Muslim dominated areas and Christians migrating to Christian dominated areas. Typical example is the situation in Jos North/South of Plateau state.

•       Crisis over the question of citizenship. Hostility between ‘indigenes’ and ‘settlers’. Typical example is the 2011 crisis in Southern Kaduna State and the plight of IDPs.

•       Disruption of family and communal life

•       General atmosphere of mistrust, fear, and frenzy especially between Northern Christians and Muslims; and between Northerners and Southerners resident in the North.

•       Dehumanization of women and children e.g. Rape, child neglect/abuse

•       Deepening of hunger and poverty in the society

•       Atmosphere of political insecurity and instability including declining confidence in the political leadership and apprehension about the system.

Hence the challenge is how to address effectively the above mentioned impact.

During the violent conflicts or natural disaster, which forced IDPs to leave, most houses and properties are destroyed, looted or burnt down. Most IDPs in Nigeria flee to neghbouring communities that are safe, usually taking refuge in temporary shelters such as schools, public buildings and places of worship among others; having been deprived of their homes and sometimes their land and livelihoods. Hence, lacking access to necessities of life such as food, water and shelter.

While some efforts are made by humanitarian and faith-based organisations and government agencies to address some of the basic needs of IDPs, their vulnerability tend to be increased by barriers to accessing healthcare services, education, employment, economic activities and information for participation in decision making affecting their lives. With some IDPs camped in school buildings, education is usually disrupted for both local communities and displaced children.

Further IDPs in Nigeria faced insecurity and all forms of exploitation and abuse, including rape, having camped in congested shelters, isolated, insecure or inhospitable areas. IDPs are also largely separated from their families especially, unaccompanied children and teenagers, the elderly and sick, the handicapped and pregnant women, whose special needs and privacy are not attended to, due to fragmented and uncoordinated humanitarian response to the needs of IDPs.

IDPs in Nigeria also faced lack of access to justice, whether in relation to cases of human rights violations such as discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities, sexual violence, and deprivation of means of livelihood.

Even when the situation of most IDPs improves, potentially durable solutions have remained out of the reach of specific groups with particular needs or vulnerabilities. These include the elderly or sick people, widows barred from recovering the property they had lived in, or members of minorities facing discrimination, marginalisation and exclusion or whose livelihoods depend on a particular attachment to their areas of origin or settlement. For such groups, strategies or incentives that had encouraged others to move towards a durable solution may not have been effective or accessible, and the tailored support they needed to rebuild their lives was not available.

1.2 Statement of the problem

In the past decade, forced displacement  has expanded to become a truly global problem (Crawford et al 2015: 1). It was estimated that the number of IDPs rapidly increased, at an average of 1.6 million people per year, from 2000 to 2014 (Crawford et al. 2015: 1). This rapid increase was caused by situations of generalized violence, armed civil conflicts and international military interventions, natural and also man-made disasters and human rights violations in many parts of the world (Crawford et al. 2015: 1; Christensen and Harild 2009: 5). As a result, forced displacement resulted, producing two main categories of victims, refugees who cross international borders  and IDPs who remain within the borders one’s country (Christensen and Harild 2009: 5 and Sabie et al. 2017: 12). Forced displacement involving IDPs is “one of today’s biggest humanitarian issues” (Christensen and Harild 2009: 4). At the end of 2014, the total number of forcibly displaced persons (refugees plus IDPs) around the globe stood at 59.5 million, with 60% of these being IDPs, within the borders of their own countries (Crawford et al. 2015: 1). Forced displacement destroys or at least weakens the fabric of communities, creating new vulnerabilities and needs among the deprived individuals and families, often stripped of their livelihoods and property (Christensen and Harild 2009: 4) required for them to survive while in displacement.

Due to reasons such as being displaced in isolated or remote locations without camps; inability to physically and financially to make it to the camp areas; the closure of camps by the state for political reasons, and the fear of being detected by the authorities who may be viewed as hostile towards them (Beyani 2013: 11); the majority of the world’s IDPs prefer to live or end up living outside (Kamungi 2013: 1; Beyani 2013: 1) camp-like settings in both urban and rural areas (Beyani 2013; CCCM 2014). Most IDPs living outside camps “often prefer, or have little option, [but]…to reside with host families” (Davies 2012: 7) in the communities in which they seek refuge. The issue of displaced persons living outside camps is becoming more persistent as estimates “suggest up to 80%” (CCCM 2014: 2) of IDPs currently live outside camp-like settings (CCCM 2014: 2). This is true for Nigeria, where it is estimated that the vast majority of IDPs in the country have sought refuge in host communities (Tajudeen and Adebayo 2013: 5; Ezeonwuka 2016: 49). While some IDPs choose to live outside of camp settings because they “do not want or need assistance” (Beyani 2013: 11), many IDPs as an alternate means of coping with forced displacement end up opting for community hosting despite needing the assistance and protection that the camps could potentially offer (Davies 2012; Beyani 2013). 

The problems of reaching IDPs are complicated by the fact that most IDPs remain “outside of identifiable camps or settlements and instead live in dispersed urban, rural or remote settings” (Crawford et al. 2015: 1). In countries where IDPs are living both in camps and outside camps, the state authorities and humanitarian actors are “twice as likely to provide assistance and protection…” (Kamungi 2013: 1) to IDPs living in camps as those living outside camps. This is because “it is generally easier for authorities, organizations and agencies to provide assistance in camps than in non-camp settings” (Beyani 2013: 4) since IDPs outside camps are almost by definition difficult to identify (Beyani 2013). IDPs living outside camps are often scattered, not easy to reach with services, (Beyani 2013) and “tend to remain under the radar screen of government authorities and international actors concerned” (Beyani 2013: 1). Because IDPs outside camps remain under the radar, as it were, and undetected, host communities are most often in the first line response to IDPs’ needs (Beyani 2013: 10: Rohwerder 2013: 3). Host communities can thus be seen as key to ensuring essential assistance and access to services for IDPs in general, since it is they who welcome, support and assist most IDPs, especially at the critical early stages of their displacement (Beyani 2013: 10). 

Objectives of the study

1.     To understand why IDPs in Maiduguri prefer to live in host communities rather than in camps? 

2.     To know why gender and social networks shaped community hosting of IDPs in Maiduguri?

3.     To understand why community hosting of IDPs impacted on IDPs and host communities in Maiduguri?

Research Questions

1.     Why do IDPs in Maiduguri prefer to live in host communities rather than in camps?

2.     How have gender and social networks shaped community hosting of IDPs in Maiduguri?

3.     How has community hosting of IDPs impacted on IDPs and host communities in Maiduguri?

Research Hypothesis

H0: There is no significant effect of idp camps on host communities

H1: There is a significant effect of idp camps on host communities

H0: Idp camps does not have a significant effect on host communities

H1: Idp camps does have a significant effect on host communities


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