Viewing cable 03ABUJA713
Title: DECLARATION OF DISASTER: DISPLACEMENT OF ITSEKIRI

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
03ABUJA7132003-04-17 17:27:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Abuja
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 000713 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
AIDAC FOR OFDA 
 
 
DEPT FOR AF/W, PRM AND DRL 
 
 
E.O. 12958:  N/A 
TAGS: PREF PREL PHUM PGOV NI
SUBJECT:  DECLARATION OF DISASTER: DISPLACEMENT OF ITSEKIRI 
AND IJAW VILLAGERS IN WARRI AREA, DELTA STATE 
 
¶1. The Ambassador hereby declares the situation in the 
Warri North, Warri South, and Warri Southwest Local 
Government Areas (LGAs) of Delta State as a man-made 
disaster.  In accordance with USAID/DCHA Office of U.S. 
Foreign Disaster Assistance guidance, the Ambassador 
requests immediate OFDA support of $50,000 in order to 
provided emergency humanitarian relief assistance to the 
approximately 9,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in 
this area. 
 
 
¶2. The affected LGAs are located in the Niger Delta, a 
region of the country that accounts for around 90 percent 
of Nigeria's export earnings and 80 percent of the 
government's revenue, but which remains one of the least 
developed regions in Nigeria with per capita income well 
below the national average of $280.  This disparity has 
contributed to a regular cycle of conflict in this oil- 
producing region over the past several years.  However, 
this is the first time that the conflict has been so severe 
in its impact on the oil flows to the world market. 
 
 
¶3. The current conflict between two major ethnic groups in 
the region, the Ijaws and the Itsekiri, was ostensibly 
provoked by the Ijaws' grievance over a recently redrawn 
division of electoral wards in the Warri Southwest LGA. 
The Ijaws are the fourth largest ethnic group in Nigeria 
and the new division has been perceived as giving rival 
Itsekiri political dominance over an area heavily populated 
by Ijaws.  Fighting between the Nigerian military and Ijaw 
youth over illegal "bunkering" (theft by siphoning) of oil 
from pipelines is also seen as a contributing factor. 
Regardless of the true source of the conflict, starting on 
March 13, Ijaw youth attacked and razed 28 Itsekiri 
villages.  In response, the Nigerian Navy and Army fired on 
Ijaw villages. 
 
 
¶4. According to the International Foundation for Education 
and Self-Help (IFESH) -- a U.S. NGO with office, staff and 
projects in Warri and the surrounding area -- the conflict 
has left approximately 8,000 Itsekiri IDPs living outdoors 
in common areas in Warri town and Sapele (about 45 
kilometers north of Warri town) since mid-March: 2,500 of 
the Itsekiri IDPs are currently in Warri town and 5,500 are 
in Sapele.  An additional 1,000 ethnic Ijaw IDPs are also 
living without shelter in Obe-Ijoh, the seat of Warri 
Southwest LGA.  Itsekiri and Ijaw leaders generally confirm 
these figures. 
 
 
¶5. On March 20, in response to the severity of violence 
associated with the conflict, both Chevron and Shell closed 
down wells and flow stations in the area and evacuated 
their personnel to Warri town, Port Harcourt and Lagos. 
Shell and Chevron also assisted in the evacuation of 
thousands of villagers displaced by the fighting.  The 
resulting "shut-in" of oil production translated in the 
lost production of approximately 800,000 barrels/day, equal 
to more than one-percent of global demand and over 40 
percent of Nigeria's production.  Lost revenue to both the 
Nigerian government and the oil companies could exceed as 
much as $1.5 billion. 
 
 
¶6. Because of a lack of resources and a deep distrust of 
the government by the affected ethnic groups, the Federal 
Government of Nigeria and the Delta State Government are 
unable to fulfill the immediate humanitarian needs of these 
IDPs. 
 
 
¶7. The Federal Government (Office of the Presidency) has 
been contacted formally and we anticipate shortly a 
response indicating GON acceptance of this USG (OFDA) 
disaster relief through a U.S. NGO. 
 
 
¶8. Providing relief to address the humanitarian needs of 
those affected by this conflict is strongly in the USG's 
interest.  The shut-down of oil production in this area 
adversely affected global oil supplies and prices: as the 
largest purchaser of Nigerian crude oil, the US is 
particularly sensitive to fluctuations in Nigeria's oil 
production.  The Niger Delta is also home to the largest 
concentration of U.S. investment in continental Africa. 
More generally, mitigating a humanitarian emergency in the 
region will underscore U.S. concerns for the people of 
Nigeria in this strategically critical area. 
 
 
¶9. Given, the lack of GON capacity to respond to the 
situation, the willingness of Nigeria's Federal Government 
to accept USG disaster relief through a U.S. NGO, and the 
strategic importance of the region to the U.S., this 
disaster relief request meets USAID/DCHA requirements for 
funding. 
 
 
Why IFESH? 
---------- 
 
 
¶10. The Embassy proposes to use IFESH to respond to the 
immediate needs of the IDPs because it is uniquely 
positioned to provide this relief aid efficiently and 
equitably.  IFESH is the only U.S. NGO operating in the 
affected swamplands of Delta State.  It has earned the 
respect of both Ijaw and Itsekiri communities -- no easy 
feat in this conflict-plagued land -- implementing 
community development and conflict resolution activities 
with USAID and Chevron support.  IFESH, founded by the late 
Reverend Leon Sullivan, is also well known to USAID 
throughout the world.  Equally important, the Nigerian Red 
Cross -- the usual vehicle for delivery of disaster relief 
here -- is in our view unsuitable for the efficient and 
equitable disbursement of relief aid in this region.  A 
prominent Itsekiri leader recently told the Embassy that 
her people would not trust the Red Cross because it is seen 
as an arm of the government and relatively unknown to the 
local communities.  This view was echoed by Warri staff of 
IFESH. 
 
 
¶11. According to an assessment provided by IFESH, an 
estimated 4,000 of the IDPs are in immediate need of 
bedding, clothing, food and counseling.  IFESH workers in 
Warri claim that shelter material (e.g. tents or tarps) are 
not/not needed as the IDPs feel vulnerable to attack in 
these; the IDPs prefer and are using enclosed spaces such 
as public schools and sheltered stadiums.  The projected 
budget for this OFDA relief assistance is as follows: 
 
 
--500 sets of Bedding at Naira 4,000/set = $15,335 
--Food for 4,000 for 14 days at Naira 50/pp/pd = $23,077 
--4,000 sets of clothing at Naira 300/set = $9,230 
--Counseling at three sites = $2,092 
TOTAL:  $49,734. 
 
 
¶12. Post will encourage Chevron, which already co-funds 
IFESH projects in the Delta, to contribute to the relief 
effort.  In addition to the airlift provided to 2,000 IDPs 
from its operational compound, Chevron initially provided 
some food relief to the displaced.  We will also encourage 
Shell, though not a U.S. company, to provide similar 
assistance. 
 
 
¶13. If OFDA approves this request for disaster assistance, 
Post's USAID Mission would provide the funding directly to 
the Nigeria office of IFESH for immediate procurement of 
relief supplies on the local market.  IFESH certifies its 
ability to find these items easily on the local market and 
asserts its capacity to deliver them in a timely and 
accountable manner to the desired IDP recipients.  Full 
accounting and evaluation reports will be provided to the 
USAID MDRO by IFESH after the relief delivery is completed. 
 
 
¶14. Points of contact for this request are: 1) Post's 
Mission Disaster Relief Officer (MDRO) Denise Rollins, at 
office: (234-9) 234-2175 or 234-2189; home: (234-9) 413- 
5740; cell phone: (234-803) 408-1034;  e-mail: 
drollins@usaid.gov or denise_rollins@hotmail.com; and (2) 
Post's Corporate Responsibility Officer (CRO) Mark Taylor 
at 234-9-523-0916 or (cellphone) 234-80359-00448, email: 
TaylorMB2@state.gov. 
 
 
 
 
JETER