Uche Usim, Abuja
As a response to displacement brought about by the conflict with Boko Haram in the northeast of Nigeria, International donors have mobilized $940 million in humanitarian aid to the troubled region, the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has said.
It stated that the fund which was raised at a conference in Oslo, Norway, was a little below the target of $1.05 billion and was actually meant for 2017 humanitarian needs in the northeast.
The Humanitarian Financing Advisor, UN OCHA, Alta Bell, stated that the international organisation was also intervening in other countries, but emphasised that in Nigeria the office conducted a needs assessment for states in the northeast and figured out that $1.05 billion was needed as humanitarian aid to the region.
Bell spoke at an event organised by the Civil Society Network for Lake Chad Region in Abuja on Friday.
“With respect to Nigeria in the year 2017, there was a humanitarian response plan that was developed and it was done in partnership with all partners. We looked at the needs, we did the needs overview of the different states in the North-East and we came up with a plan to respond to the very significant needs which actually amounted to $1.05bn. This is extremely large requirement.
“However, as a result of conferences like Oslo and awareness campaigns, funds were raised. Through Oslo, the actual response in terms of contributions was extremely generous. With more than $740m raised and mobilised to respond to needs, and even outside of that another $200m which was also for humanitarian needs. That is unprecedented.”
Commending the network of CSOs at the event, Bell said, “So thanks to all of your voices, the influence that you’ve had with the government, with the donors and at this Oslo conference that really kick-started the response and led to a massive scale-up in response.”
She stated that in 2017, the UN OCHA was able to reach out to 5.1 million people in the affected region.
Bell said more humanitarian workers will be employed, going forward.
“In 2017, we were looking at a target of 6.9 million people and we were able to assist 5.1 million people, together with all of our partners. And this is also an impressive achievement which could not have been done without the support of local partners.
“Certainly, we are now looking at something like 3,000 humanitarian workers, most of whom are local, whether local NGOs or staff working with the international NGOs in the UN because they are the frontline responders.”
She said an additional $1.05 billion will be needed for humanitarian needs in 2018, adding that her office had started working with international financial institutions in order to meet the needs of more people in the North-East.
“In this year 2018, we are actually looking at another $1.05bn that is going to be required to respond. Certainly in order to respond well we need to maintain the momentum that was achieved last year and we also recognise the need for strengthening our partnership with local NGOs and with the civil society, Bell said.
“I will like to say that with respect to this year, we are also working very closely with our development partners and different banks, including the World Bank, because we really want to work towards more stabilisation and more legitimacy in the different areas where there have been some sort of high levels of conflict.”
Also speaking at the event the Chairman of the Network of CSOs in the region, Mr. Shehu Ahmed, urged the government to improve security in the region, following the recent kidnap of about 100 hundred girls from a secondary school in Dapchi, Yobe State, as well as the bombings and attacks by insurgents across north-east and the Lake Chad region.
He added that without the support of the international community and donor agencies, the situation in the north-east could have been worse than it is at the moment.
“As we all know, it’s the responsibility of every government to protect the lives and properties of its citizens. With respect to the kidnap in Yobe, we from the civil society, we are telling the stakeholders, especially the government to take their jobs very seriously, which is the protection of lives and property and give people the right information.
“They should stop playing games with people’s lives. The Boko Haram issue is a challenge, hence, let us all put our hands on deck and see that we surmount this challenges together.”
He said the government and civil societies cannot continue to work at crossroads, noting that collaboration is critical in tackling the challenges posed by the insurgency.
He said that “Though the government is trying, but it still needs to do more. We need to be up and doing and be at the top of our games. As long as the government is not providing the needed security, there is a gap to be filled.”