Boko Haram’s insurgency in northeastern Nigeria and around Lake Chad has uprooted more than 2.4 million people and left some 10.7 million in need of aid in a humanitarian catastrophe considered to be one of the world’s most neglected crises.
International donors at a conference in Norway last month pledged $672 million in new money for the Lake Chad region for the next three years.
The United Nations says it needs $1.5 billion this year alone in humanitarian aid for the region – which includes Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria – where seven million people risk starvation.
The U.N. Security Council this week visited the region and said “barely enough is being done” to aid the situation.
Here are the views of some leading aid agencies on how to tackle the crisis.
MOHAMED FALL – Nigeria Representative for the U.N. children’s agency (UNICEF)
“We need to be able to access those people living in areas that still cannot be reached with any kind of humanitarian assistance. There are pockets of famine-like conditions in Borno state and millions of people are in need of urgent support. We need coordination on funding to avoid duplication of efforts by different organisations and partners in the same area. We must make sure that children do not miss out on education; we must make sure to keep a focus on peacebuilding and life skills so that we can break the cycle of violence and help to rebuild the social fabric of the area.”
CASIE TESFAI – Senior Technical Advisor for Nutrition at the International Rescue Committee (IRC)
“The ongoing war against Boko Haram has transformed a fragile situation where livelihoods have been destroyed and millions have fled into an emergency where 540,000 children are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition this year. The IRC recognises that addressing this crisis requires a coordinated attack on all fronts driving malnutrition – health, water and sanitation, food security and nutrition. We don’t just need a scale-up of aid, we need better aid and an investment in new solutions to address this problem.”
PATRICK YOUSSEF – Deputy Regional Director for Africa at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
“The conflict has separated families, destroyed access to food, water, education, shelter, and health care. Since the end of 2016, the overall humanitarian response has increased in the region, yet these efforts must be expanded further if we truly want to scale back the suffering and avert a worsening of an already dire situation. The ICRC has started to move from emergency food relief to greater support to livelihood initiatives, identifying with affected communities ways to provide more durable and sustained solutions centred around resilience and self-reliance.”
PAULINE BALLAMAN – Lake Chad Basin Response Lead for Oxfam
“After eight years of conflict the people of northeast Nigeria are on the brink. They desperately need food, clean water, shelter and safety. Oxfam is helping in the areas that we can reach, but there are many more people still trapped in areas that humanitarian organisations can’t get to. We urgently need to find ways to ensure people can safely move to assistance or that organisations can get to them to provide much needed support.”
BRIGITTE MUKANGA ENO – Acting Representative to Nigeria for the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR)
“The psychosocial needs of the displaced population are vast and largely unmet. For many of these people, day-to-day survival remains an existential struggle. The experience of violence, persistent fear, uncertainty and loss among the displaced is exacerbated by a sense of a loss of dignity, as many feel ashamed of their often dire living conditions and inability to change their circumstances.”