US Donates Additional $102m for North East Humanitarian Services

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*World Bank says it spent $775m on the zone in three years

From Paul Obi in Abuja

United States Thursday donated additional $102 million for humanitarian services in the North East.

US Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Syminton, made the announcement at the National Conversation on the Humanitarian Development and Peace Nexus in Abuja.

The US envoy also warned that the Boko Haram insurgency and the conflicts associated with it cannot be solved with money.

Syminton said: “The people of the United States understand how important this region and Nigeria is to the future of the world. We also understand that there are times like this when an investment of money from outside makes a huge difference inside.

“I am truly delighted…. to make the announcement of another contribution of $102 million to the work that is being done to support humanitarian needs of the Nigerian people in the North East.

“This is, as you can tell, a significant contribution from every man and woman and tax payers from the United States. We are making this contribution because of the importance of Nigeria.”

He said, “we understand, and ultimately, that the solution to this crisis is not about money alone, it’s about changing lives, transforming hope to something tangible. What we want to see is that this investment and efforts of your government change lives.”

Syminton explained that the $102 million humanitarian fund would provide life saving aids, such as emergency food assistance, nutrition treatment, health services, safe drinking water and assistance to victims of sexual violence.

Also, the World Bank Country Director to Nigeria, Rachid Benmessaoud, said efforts were in top gear by the bank to reach out to fragile states in the area of humanitarian assistance, regional cooperation and integration and developmental projects.

To that effect, Benmessaoud informed the gathering that “the World Bank has moved to increase financing of humanitarian services to the tune of $14 billion to fragile states,” adding that, “we must work together for humanitarian assistance and development.”

The World Bank Country Director argued that given the prevalence of conflicts across the world, “the work of humanitarian, development and peace collaboration was no longer a linear service, adding that this is the case with the North East of Nigeria.

“Since 2016, the World Bank has given $775 million in support of the Nigerian government efforts on reintegration and development in the North East,” Benmessaoud said.

He also warned that the federal government must do all it can to ensure safety and security of persons working in the North East, stating that, “security remains a precondition for the provision of humanitarian services in order to reach out to victims.”

Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, speaking on the $102 million US government donation to Nigeria stated that “not only are they donating money, they are donating expertise and technical support in different sectors; in health and education.

“Now, they have added protection and also the work we have to do on gender violence,” Ahmed stressed.

Director of Special Projects and Coordinator for Health Response to Humanitarian Services, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Ngozi Azodoh, also made presentation on the imperative of health services in humanitarian crisis.

Azodoh explained that given the prevailing humanitarian crisis in the North East, the role of healthcare service delivery has become more important and strategic in addressing the various challenges victims of the conflict face daily.

Presentations were also made by the governments of Netherlands, Norway, Japan, Botswana, United Kingdom (UK), the Nigerian Economic Summit (NES) among other stakeholders.