Senator Iroegbu just back from Paris
The government of France and European Union (EU) will contribute the sum of €35.5 million in aid package for the rehabilitation and development of North-east Nigeria and especially Lake Chad Basin region devastated by the Boko Haram terrorism, THISDAY has learnt.
The Adviser for Africa in the Office of the Presidency, L’Elysee, Paris, France, Mr. Thomas Melonio, disclosed this during a chat with some journalists in a study trip to France tagged: ‘The Fight against Terrorism and Radicalisation’.
Melonio stated that France in its ‘Lake Chad Initiative’ programme, will increase its financial and humanitarian input for the development of the Lake Chad region.
He said apart from the military, intelligence and other diplomatic cooperation with countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) and Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), France in concert with the EU will embark on humanitarian assistance and development projects for the region. To this end, he said, France will give €5 million, while the EU will disburse €30 million for these projects.
“We are stepping up our efforts around the Lake Chad region. We are increasing our input for the development around the Lake Chad region for humanitarian aid and human development projects. We are taking them under what is called what is called ‘Lake Chad Initiative’, with France contributing €5.5 million and the driving force behind the EU’s €30 million,” he disclosed.
In the same vein, the Coordinator of the Crisis and Support Centre (CDCS) within the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Mr. Ambroise Pierre, said the actions are in line with the French policy to support countries facing terrorism including Nigeria, Iraq and Syria amongst others.
According to Pierre, France is involved because terrorism is a global issue and the country itself is facing internal security threats from the Jihadists. He said the CDCS, which is a stabilising mission unit, cooperates and encourages countries in post-crisis situation, especially in the area of humanitarian and development projects.
He said they work with the French Development Agency (AFD), International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and other relevant foreign and local Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to provide psycho-social support to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North-east of Nigeria.
Pierre said the Lake Chad Initiative is a sub-regional programme to help host communities and IDPs; deliver quick impact and labour-intensive projects; as well as improved the agri-food and pastoral sectors of the economy. According to him, the project has four pillars including: strengthening of human capital and social cohesion; sustainable support to small business; institution building; and knowledge production.
He noted that the first project took place in 2015 at the North Eastern states of Borno and Yobe, adding that there will be the extension of the psycho-social support project in Borno with Social-Justice in 2016.
“We also look at the human rights issues like child soldiers, justice and we are working with Action Against Hunger (AAH) in Fika LGA of Yobe State, AFD is also working in the Lake Chad region with the €35 million for various initiatives in cooperation with several humanitarian organisations like Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE), Catholic Committee Against Hunger and for Development (CCFD) and Groupe URD amongst others,” he added.
Pierre explained that these agencies will focus on strengthening human and social cohesion within the communities in the region; support Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs); build institutions to help the IDPs come back to their homes; and provide them with the required knowledge and skills for labour-intensive and agricultural production.
THISDAY was informed that while France has disbursed part of the €5.5 million pledge, the EU will fulfil its €30 million by end of 2016.