By Prudence Arobani
The UN has said that it would provide assistance to no fewer than 6.1 million people affected by the Boko Haram crisis in Northeast Nigeria by the end of 2018.
UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, stated this at a conference in New York tagged ‘Strengthening the Humanitarian and Development Partnership in the Lake Chad Region’.
Kallon said: “In Nigeria, we are still facing a crisis of global magnitude. The figures are alarming — 10.2 million people — affected in three states in Northeast Nigeria, 7.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.
“Our 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan was developed to provide assistance for 6.1 million people requiring slightly above a billion dollars in 2018.
“Before October 2016, the Nigerian Government and the international community were barely reaching 395,000 people of an estimated population of eight million people that were affected by the crisis.
“With your generous support and support of the Government of Nigeria, we were able to scale up assistance in 2017 and reached over 5.6 million people.
“It’s not only reaching these numbers that was important but that we were able to avert famine; we were able to contain serious cholera outbreak and we were able to address recurrent outflows and inflows of displaced people in the country.”
The UN official expressed regret that about 1.7 people were displaced in the area but was optimistic that there was also an opportunity and light at the end of the tunnel.
According to him, as some areas become safe, people are also returning, adding that from 2015 to date, no fewer than 1.4 million people have returned to safe areas.
Kallon, however, expressed concerns that some of the returnees were being displaced the second or third time because they needed basic services to reach their final destination, calling for donors’ support.
The UN head said: “The call, which we echoed through Oslo-1 and through the United Nations Security Council Mission, is that we need a holistic approach to this crisis.
“We cannot address this crisis with humanitarian response alone. The root causes of this crisis are developmental in Northeast Nigeria.
“We are talking about serious concerns of poverty, poverty that is multi-dimension in nature as we speak these days.
“We’re talking about climate vulnerabilities that is compounding the impacts of the crisis. Hunger and conflict are feeding on each and all that in a vicious cycle in the Lake Chad Basin.”
According to him, there is no peace without development, no development without peace and no peace and development without strong institutions.
Kallon told donors and partners that they could save lives in the short-term but must invest in building capacities so that governments could respond and take over their responsibilities.
“Nigeria is a guinea-pig in the new way of working and also the whole nexus debate. It’s not one of the easiest debate but if it has to happen, it has to happen in Nigeria.
“Nigeria’s representative talked about The Buhari Plan, which was developed at the backdrop of a recovery and peace building assessment that was done by all key stakeholders – UN, the World Bank, donors and the government,
“It is costed and requiring about 6.7 billion dollars to actually bring peace, security in northeast Nigeria, and most of the international financial institutions have started investing.
“We are pushing the agenda hard but the durable solution to the crisis in Northeast Nigeria is peace and for peace to happen, there is need for a political process,” Kallon said.
Participants at the conference included humanitarian coordinators from Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon, and donor countries including Governments of Norway, UK, Canada, the EU, the Netherlands and the U.S., the largest donor.
They underscored stressed the importance of the Berlin conference holding from Sept. 3 to Sept. 4, and Oslo 2 Conference, to address not only the causes but the consequences of the situation in the Lake Chad region.