By Alex Enumah
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has said the agency would need $1 billion in its bid to provide urgent and quality humanitarian assistance to victims of Boko Haram Insurgency in the three northern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe in 2017.
The amount which is more than double of what the agency appealed for in 2016 is occasioned by the worsening humanitarian conditions in the area, which is said to be the worst in the region.
United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Peter Lundberg, disclosed this to newsmen in Abuja, at the unveiling of the Humanitarian Response Plan for 2017.
He said, “Together with 75 partners, we are seeking US$1 billion to deliver life-saving assistance and prevent further hardship for the children, women and men in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States, and we are particularly reaching out to Nigerian private sector.
“We are grateful to the international community for their support so far, but we ask for commitments throughout 2017 to prevent this disaster from escalating into widespread catastrophe.”
Lundberg, while calling for urgent support from all and sundry stated that if nothing urgently is done to help mitigate the situation, millions of people in the area may lose their lives within the next few months.
He disclosed that the 2017 plan will focus on 8.5 million people in need of urgent assistance and also aimed at reaching 6.9 million people with life-saving humanitarian support. Also targeted are the over 75,000 children who may like die from severe famine and malnutrition if something urgent is not done.
Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, who appreciated the agency and the entire international community for rallying round Nigeria in this crisis situation, disclosed that the government is not just focused on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) but the interest of all communities affected and also those communities that have been providing support to the IDPs.
Stressing the urgent need to address the issue of hunger, Ahmed appealed to the agency and her partners to scale up efforts and reach at least 3 million people with food supplies. She also tasked the agency on improving health conditions in the region by particularly ensuring that the renewed outbreak of polio in the area is curtailed.
“Education is also important as a lot of these children have been out of school for a very long time. 50% of the 8.1 million people in need of urgent assistance are children and we must help them”, she said.
The agency apart from intervening in the area of food and health is also assisting in the area of water and sanitation, shelter, education, empowerment amongst others.