Humanitarian Crisis Will Persist in North-east Despite Interventions, Says Minister

Daji Sani in Yola

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, has said that despite interventions from the federal government and humanitarian partners in the North-east millions of people are still facing humanitarian crisis due to ravaging conflicts in the region.

The minister stated this during the launching of the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan by the United Nations held at the American University of Nigeria Hotel, Yola, Adamawa State.

At the event attended by governors of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states including partners on humanitarian response, Farouq explained that the conflict in the North-east has caused widespread internal displacement, alarming food insecurity and malnutrition and outbreaks of diseases such as Cholera. 

She said the impact of climate change coupled with high prices of food and essential commodities and increased population movements have aggravated the crisis.

“Nigeria is on the frontline of the climate crisis. Climate-related shocks continue to exacerbate the needs of the most vulnerable people, as witnessed in the historic flooding across the country last year affecting 4.4 million people,” she said.

According to her, despite a significant scale-up of the humanitarian response by the United Nations and humanitarian partners since 2016 in support of government efforts, the humanitarian crisis in North-east Nigeria persists.

She said according to UN activity costing analysis, humanitarian partners will require US $1.3 billion in funding to carry out their activities towards improving lifesaving and protection needs of six million people in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states this year.

“This increase reflects broadening and deepening needs in protection, food and nutrition, healthcare, water, hygiene and sanitation and shelter among internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees, and host communities. Other contributing factors include camp closures and the influx of people fleeing areas under the control of non-state armed groups.

“In March 2022, the Federal Government of Nigeria launched its new National Policy on Internally Displaced Persons, reaffirming and clarifying the obligations and responsibilities of the government to protect, promote, and fulfill the rights of IDPs, returnees, and host communities.

“Internal displacement is a key driver of vulnerability for the over two million IDPs who are facing formidable challenges accessing food, shelter, protection, and other basics. Most rely on humanitarian aid with homelessness and rampant insecurity curtailing their movements and preventing access to farms.

“The Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) is a framework for the UN, international and national NGOs, civil society, and the private sector to work in support of the Government of Nigeria to meet affected people’s needs in a focused and prioritised way.

“This HRP sets attainable goals to improve the situation of women and girls more strategically, as well as of boys and men. Results will be monitored, and achievements consolidated into the Nigeria roadmap for gender equality programming in emergencies (2022-2024),” Faroug said.

According to her, to help vulnerable people better protect themselves from the impacts of hazards such as floods and droughts, the HRP will strengthen anticipatory action.

She said going beyond preparedness and contingency planning, this will help to lay the foundation for long term recovery among crisis affected people, strengthen resilience, and, where feasible, create pathways for development. “This is aligned with our 2021 National Humanitarian-Development-Peace Framework, which aims to make humanitarian response more impactful, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework 2023-2027 among other relevant plans and frameworks.”

“Through the HRP, efforts will continue towards localisation, including by increasing direct funding to national NGO partners.

“The government and humanitarian partners remain committed to strengthening the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, which is a key tenet of our humanitarian action in North-east Nigeria.

“The Government of Nigeria will continue to dedicate more resources, and to strengthen engagement with affected people, humanitarian and development donors and the international community towards a resolution of the crisis in north-east Nigeria,” the minister said.

The UN said the launch was an intervention package targeting six million people who need assistance around the North-east following insurgency, other forms of conflict, diseases and natural disasters including the more recent incidents of flooding.

It estimated US$1.3 billion to provide critical lifesaving assistance to the six million people suffering from “the devastating impact of the continuing 13-year-long armed conflict” among other emergencies.

“The millions of people in the large-scale humanitarian and protection crisis in North-east need urgent support,” said the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Mr. Matthias Schmale.

“The ticking time bomb of child malnutrition is escalating in Nigeria’s North-east, with the number of children suffering from acute malnutrition projected to increase to two million in 2023,” Schmale said.

He added that over 80 per cent of people in need of humanitarian assistance across Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states are women and children who face increased risks of violence, abduction, rape and abuse and require additional attention through enhanced access to protection and quality of basic health, nutrition, water, sanitation, and hygiene.

Giving further instances of people in need, the UN official said unpredictable attacks on people and infrastructure by armed groups are continuing and that there are nearly two million returnees who lack essential services and livelihoods.

A statement released after the launch of the Humanitarian Response Plan detailed how the plan will work, specifying that 120 operational partners will work in support of government efforts to save lives, improve the quality of life, protect the most vulnerable and enable affected people to return to normalcy and live safely.

The statement added that the Humanitarian Response Plan, which is part of a two-year strategy for 2022-2023, prioritises lifesaving needs while also working to reduce vulnerabilities.

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