Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Moved by the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in the northeastern part of the country, the United Nations (UN), has launched a $1.8 billion appeal to assist 7.8 million people in the zone.
The appeal was made yesterday by the UN during a high-level briefing on the steeply deteriorating humanitarian situation in the northeast titled ‘North-East Nigeria: Act now, Avert the Worst’ held in partnership with some non governmental organisations to provide urgent aid to vulnerable affected people.
The UN estimated that the required amount was less than $12 a month to save each of the people suffering in the northeast.
UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, while making the appeal, said the urgent appeal was called for, following the renewed attacks that continued to destroy communities and the extreme challenges suffered as a result of COVID-19.
Kallon further said the high rate of inflation, coupled with restrictions in movements have also added to the sufferings of the people in the northeast.
While saying that approximately 4.3 million people were facing food insecurity at crisis or emergency levels, Kallon also said increased food insecurity will lead to higher levels of malnutrition.
The UN envoy further said in the absence of immediate support, one out of five malnourished children could die without treatment.
“Despite tremendous efforts by the humanitarian community to feed over 2.5 million people, violent attacks continue preventing people from reaching their lands and rebuilding their livelihoods.
“Every year of the crisis, an additional one million people have become food insecure. Children and women in particular, are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prevention measures such as lockdowns, physical distancing, and school closures are impeding education, jeopardizing the future of 4.2 million children.
“Protection concerns are paramount, and the risks of exploitation, domestic violence and abuse are higher than ever for women, boys and girls. At the same time, as we are fighting the pandemic, I have been shocked, saddened and outraged by the brutal attacks targeting civilians, including aid workers in recent weeks. Incidents in which villages have been brutally attacked, houses and property set ablaze, and people burned alive.
“Today, 1.9 million people remain internally displaced in the BAY states. Since the beginning of the year, nearly 60,000 people were forced to flee their homes, some for the second or third time. More than a third of these are sleeping out in the open,” Kallon said.
In his remarks, the Country Representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Mr Peter Hawkins, said children in Nigeria, most especially children in camps, were the most vulnerable as far COVID-19 was concerned.
“We would not want to walk out of a pandemic with children dying of measles and infected with polio,” Hawkins stated.