Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The United Nations (UN), has raised the alarm over humanitarian needs in the North East.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in a statement made available tour correspondent in Abuja, said that after a five-day visit, senior officials from UN agencies and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), representing the Interagency Standing Committee (IASC), emphasised that the humanitarian crisis in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states needed renewed support to face the recent upsurge in violence and growing humanitarian needs.
“They are also raising the alarm on the situation, as the number of people who are facing food insecurity has recently increased to three million, up more than 10 percent from October 2018,” the United Nations said.
The United Nations Office added that during the mission, the senior officials met the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, the Governor of Borno State, and a wide range of UN agencies, humanitarian NGOs and partners in Maiduguri, Borno State.
The team, according to the United Nations, also visited several camps for internally displaced persons and some of the towns most affected by the crisis in Borno State such as Damboa, Dikwa, and Rann.
The Director of the Operations and Advocacy Division for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Ms. Reena Ghelani, said: “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.”
Ghelani added: “This week, we have met 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.”
The United Nations further said that now in its tenth year, the conflict in the North East continues to uproot the lives of tens of thousands of civilians.
The United Nations added that in recent months, a new spike in violence and military counter-operations have hit civilians, particularly in Borno State, even as it said since January, some 134,000 people have been forced out from their homes.
United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon, said: “Aid agencies have significantly scaled up and reached some two million people with aid this year.
“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.”
The United Nations also said the violence continued to disrupt livelihoods and deepening the impact of chronic vulnerabilities such as food insecurity, malnutrition and epidemics in affected communities.
It further said in total, 7.1 million people needed life-saving assistance across the states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, while some three million people are facing food insecurity, and malnutrition is threatening the lives of more than one million children.
“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,” Ghelani further said.
According to Ghelani, “all actors, including the government and the private sector in Nigeria, need to join forces to help those affected by the crisis to recover, in dignity, and restart their lives.
“The UN and its partners have appealed for $848 million to provide life-saving assistance to 6.2 million people in 2019. Six months into the year, thanks to the generosity of donors, the response plan is 32.6 per cent funded. Significant additional funding is urgently needed to sustain the humanitarian response and avoid an interruption in life-saving services that would further exacerbate the dire situation,” the statement further read.