Boko Haram: Prepare for spike in conflict, hunger in Northeast – UN warns Nigeria

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The deteriorating security situation in northeast Nigeria since the beginning of the year 2020 calls for urgent support for victims of the conflict who are majorly rural dwellers, UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Edward Kallon has said.

According to him, the number of people needing humanitarian assistance is the highest ever recorded in five years of a joint humanitarian response.

The humanitarian coordinator said, “The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting us all. Its devastating effects will distress Nigeria’s most fragile region. Unless we take immediate action, we should prepare for a spike in conflict, hunger and destitution in north-east Nigeria.”

Speaking at an online High-Level Briefing, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr Edward Kallon, joined by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq and Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum, as well as other UN and NGO representatives, stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates the dire humanitarian situation in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States, and risks wreaking havoc on the most vulnerable population.

The deteriorating security situation in northeast Nigeria since the beginning of the year 2020 calls for urgent support for victims of the conflict who are majorly rural dwellers, UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Edward Kallon has said.

According to him, the number of people needing humanitarian assistance is the highest ever recorded in five years of a joint humanitarian response.

The humanitarian coordinator said, “The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting us all. Its devastating effects will distress Nigeria’s most fragile region. Unless we take immediate action, we should prepare for a spike in conflict, hunger and destitution in north-east Nigeria.”

Speaking at an online High-Level Briefing, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr Edward Kallon, joined by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq and Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum, as well as other UN and NGO representatives, stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates the dire humanitarian situation in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States, and risks wreaking havoc on the most vulnerable population.

The UN said over 10.6 million people – out of a total of 13 million, or four in five people – will need some form of humanitarian assistance in 2020. This is close to a 50 per cent increase in people in need since last year, mainly from increasing violence and insecurity further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The ongoing conflict in north-east Nigeria – now in its eleventh year – and the upsurge in violence witnessed over the past year in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states have deepened humanitarian needs. ” Mr Kellon observed.

Adding his voice, Paul Howe, Representative and Country Director of the World Food Programme said, “We are concerned about conflict-affected communities who already face severe hunger and are vulnerable to the socio-economic fallout from the pandemic,”

The UN said though humanitarian organizations are providing food assistance to over 2.5 million people, the food security situation has gradually worsened over the past three years.

”In an area where famine was averted only a few years ago and where millions are still struggling day by day to find their next meal, the steep rise in prices and movement restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic are an insufferable shock. Up to 4.3 million people could now be facing hunger.

“Accessing the most vulnerable communities has become more challenging even for us as national organisations,” explained Ambassador Ahmed Shehu, Chairman of the North-East Civil Society Forum.

“Many of our colleagues have lost their lives in the service to humanity. We are urging the international community to support the north-east. It is important we all come together to provide assistance to people in need and work even closer together, especially with local actors.”

Charles Usie, Country Director of Christian Aid, representing the international NGOs said, “Needs are increasing and our work has become ever more challenging.

“Since late 2019, there are almost no roads in Borno and Yobe states that humanitarians can travel on. With the upsurge in violent attacks by non-state armed groups, humanitarian workers and the aid they deliver are increasingly at risk.”

The UN said, over the past year, 15 aid workers were killed in wanton violence by non-state armed groups, greatly affecting the ability of international and Nigerian organisations and the Government to provide life-saving assistance.

“Despite challenges, the humanitarian community remains committed to supporting the people of Nigeria who are desperately in need of assistance. UN and NGO partners have already provided assistance to over 2.6 million people since the beginning of this year.

“As needs are increasing, UN and partner NGOs have reviewed their collective appeal and the budget required to provide urgent aid to 7.8 million people who are among the most vulnerable.

“The requirement now stands at US$1.08 billion. Whilst needs are rapidly increasing, funding is however at a historic low. With only five months left until the end of the year, aid organisations have received less than a third of the required amount, amounting to less than 30 cents for each person in need for the whole year.

“We know that many of our donors are facing extraordinary economic and social challenges at home as a result of the pandemic, that will require vast resources,” explained the Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Kallon.

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