Michael Olugbode, Maiduguri
The crisis in the North East needs more humanitarian assistance now than ever before, the United Nations said yesterday.
The United Nations said those faced by food insecurity in the crisis which have ravaged the area for a decade has risen by 10 per cent from what it was last October.
A press release after the end of a five-day visit by senior officials from UN agencies and NGOs, representing the Interagency Standing Committee (IASC) to the troubled North East stated that the humanitarian crisis in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states in Nigeria’s north-east needed renewed support to face the recent upsurge in violence and growing humanitarian needs.
The visiting team also raised the alarm on the situation in the troubled region, decrying that the number of people who were facing food insecurity had recently increased to 3 million, up more than 10 per cent from October 2018.
The release stated that: “During the mission (to the North East), the senior officials met with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, the Executive Governor of Borno State, and a wide range of UN agencies, humanitarian NGOs and partners in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital. They also visited several camps for internally displaced persons and some of the towns most affected by the crisis in Borno State: Damboa, Dikwa, and Rann.”
The release quoted Ms. Reena Ghelani, Director of the Operations and Advocacy Division for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as saying: “The crisis in the Lake Chad Region is far from over. This is not the time for the humanitarian community and the rest of the international community to spare any effort.”
She said that: “This week we have met with women, children, and men who have been forced to flee multiple times and urgently need protection and assistance to survive and rebuild their lives. Millions of people here still need our urgent support. We cannot let them down.”
“Some of the people we met have been living in camps for internally displaced persons for several years. They deserve the helping hand that will lift them out of the crisis, whether it is a small mill to restart some kind of business or skills to make a living,” explained Reena Ghelani.
She added that: “All actors, including the Government and the private sector in Nigeria, need to join forces to help those affected by the crisis recover, in dignity, and restart their lives.”
Also talking of the crisis, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon said:
“Aid agencies have significantly scaled up and reached some two million people with aid this year,”
He added that: “However, much more support is urgently needed. We are extremely worried about the tens of thousands of people who have recently fled rising violence and are still sleeping outside in the open. With the rainy season progressing, they will face increased risk of diseases and need immediate protection.”
Though in its tenth year, the conflict in the North East continues to uproot the lives of tens of thousands of civilians, and in recent months, a new spike in violence, and military counter-operations have hit civilians, particularly in Borno State.
It was reported that since January, some 134,000 people have been forced from their homes, as violence continues to disrupt livelihoods and deepening the impact of chronic vulnerabilities such as food insecurity, malnutrition and epidemics in affected communities.
It is believed that in total, 7.1 million people need life-saving assistance across the states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. Some three million people are facing food insecurity, while malnutrition is threatening the lives of more than one million children.