The UN says it will provide assistance to no fewer than 6.1 million people affected by the Boko Haram crisis in north-east Nigeria by the end of 2018.
Edward Kallon, UN resident and humanitarian coordinator for Nigeria, said 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 million people were displaced in the area but was optimistic that there was light at the end of the tunnel.
He said 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 called on donors’ support for returnees, saying, “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.”
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,” he said.
“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 north-east Nigeria is peace and for peace to happen, there is need for a political process.”