Top United Nations relief and development officials have called on national and international partners to step up support for humanitarian efforts in Northeastern Nigeria ravaged by Boko Haram’s insurgency.
UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Achim Steiner and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock made the call as they wrapped up a two-day official visit to Nigeria.
Steiner and Lowcock were in Nigeria to rally support for the government-led efforts on the ground, especially in the conflict-torn northeastern Nigerian states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
The top UN relief officials stressed the need to help millions of people rebuild their lives in the region that has been ravaged by the near decade-long insurgency.
“We are committed to Nigeria and to the people of Nigeria,” said Lowcock, who heads up the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
“Humanitarian aid can only be a temporary solution,” he said, adding he was pleased to visit the region alongside the UNDP Administrator.
He said their visit would help join up humanitarian and development efforts “to save lives, help stabilise the situation, rebuild lives and communities for the future”.
“We must do everything we can to prevent this crisis from continuing for years,” Lowcock said in Maiduguri at the end of the visit, which also included meetings with Minister of Finance Zainab Ahmad and high-level government officials.
They visited projects in Bama town and Ngwom community in Borno, the state most affected by the 10-year conflict, where humanitarian and development workers are providing life-saving assistance and implementing development programmes.
The two officials heard first-hand testimonies from people affected by the Lake Chad Basin crisis who are trying to rebuild their lives.
Steiner said: “We have a unique opportunity to make a real difference to communities across the northeast of Nigeria.
“Helping people affected by the crisis requires us to work together – humanitarian and development organisations alike – to tackle immediate humanitarian needs and the root causes of the crisis.”
The Nigerian Government has launched recovery initiatives and efforts in northeast aimed at rapid stabilisation.
Early recovery and livelihood activities implemented by UN agencies and international and local NGOs seek to address the underlying causes of the conflict, lay the foundations for sustainable development and prevent aid dependency.
The humanitarian crisis in northeast has spilled over into the Lake Chad region, including Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
It remains one of the most severe in the world today with 7.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in the worst-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe alone.
According to OCHA, food security and the nutrition situation remains extremely fragile across the northeast, particularly given the high levels of aid dependency, compounded by the lack of access to land or other livelihood opportunities.
No fewer than three million people are estimated to suffer from critical food insecurity, and almost a million children aged from six months to five years are acutely malnourished, with 440,000 facing Severe Acute Malnutrition.
The visit follows an international donor conference held in Berlin in early September during which some $2.5 billion was pledged for humanitarian, stabilisation and recovery projects in the Lake Chad region.