IOM, BIC Bring Color to Lives of Displaced Populations in North-East Nigeria

Lagos– On Thursday, 11 June, the world’s leading stationary brand BIC donated 28,000 writing and coloring items to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The donation—color pencils, pens and whiteboard markers—will support IOM’s mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) to internally displaced people (IDPs).

In Nigeria’s embattled north-east, millions of people continue to endure the impact of a decade-long humanitarian crisis. Most recently, on 9 June, an attack attributed to non-state armed groups claimed the lives of 81 people in the Gubio Local Government Area, 80 kilometers from Borno State’s capital, Maiduguri.

Forced into displacement, 1.8 million IDPs face risks to their mental health and wellbeing. IOM’s MHPSS activities organized in resource centres known as Safe Spaces in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States largely depend on the availability of stationery materials.

IOM’s MHPSS programme in Nigeria began in the aftermath of the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls in 2014.

Today, mobile teams operate Safe Spaces in 13 locations – seven in the Maiduguri Metropolitan Council, Jere and Konduga, and six in harder-to-reach locations. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, these mobile teams have readjusted their intervention by providing door-to-door assistance to IDPs instead of to large gatherings, which might increase the risk of disease transmission.

“Safe Spaces in IDPs camps provide social, ritual and recreational activities as well as informal education for adults and children,” explained Olga Rebolledo, IOM Nigeria MHPSS Programme Manager. “Artistic workshops and other recreational activities, as well as informal education sessions such as languages and math, require material support: pens and other writing and coloring products.”

Additional services include psychosocial first aid, small-scale conflict mediation, lay counselling, gender-based violence (GBV) sensitization and awareness raising.

“This contribution signals the key role of the private sector to continue delivering assistance to conflict-affected populations including children who would otherwise have no access to these materials,” said Abrham Tamrat, Head of IOM sub-office in Lagos, who received the donation on behalf of IOM during a handover ceremony. “We are immensely grateful for BIC’s support for IDPs in Nigeria,” he added.

In 2019, IOM MHPSS teams reached 205,051 individuals living in camps, camp-like settings and host communities in Nigeria. IOM promotes positive coping mechanisms and resilience among the displaced population by allowing men, women and children to express their fears and hopes through artistic workshops. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 response in late March 2020, IOM MHPSS teams have reached 14,796 individuals living in camps, camp-like settings and host communities through various MHPSS services and activities across field locations in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.

Said Adeyemi Ojo BIC’s Business Development Manager for Nigeria: “At BIC, we believe that we have a responsibility to make a meaningful contribution to our communities and we are proud to support the International Organization for Migration with their activities in Nigeria.”

Adeyemi Ojo added: “Stationery products can be used in a number of activities that enable students to continue their education and help reduce stress and anxiety. We hope that the BIC writing and coloring items donated today will have a positive impact on the adults and children who will use them.”

For more information please contact Jorge Galindo at IOM Nigeria, Tel: +234 906 273 9168, Email:, and Florence Kim at the IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Email:, Tel: +221 78 620 6213

Source: International Organization for Migration