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Diplomatic Blunder: Nigeria Absent As United Nations Ponders Fresh Assistance For Boko Haram Victims

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BEVERLY HILLS, September 26, (THEWILL) – In what appears as a clear diplomatic blunder by Nigeria, Friday, in New York, President Muhammadu Buhari and his team to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) were conspicuously absent at an event organised on the sidelines of the UNGA to ponder assistance to millions of people displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency across the Lake Chad Basin area.

The United Nations, Chad, Niger and Cameroon, according to Reuters, had at the meeting solicited for assistance for people displaced by the five-year-old insurgency as they are currently faced with repeated droughts and floods resulting in malnutrition and disease in the Lake Chad Basin area, including Nigeria.

However, the Nigerian delegation led by President Buhari which was at the world gathering was not represented at the meeting despite the fact that the country is the worst hit by the Boko Haram insurgency with over a million IDPs scattered across various camps in the country.

Expressing surprise at the big blunder, U.N. aid chief Stephen O’Brien could not hide his feelings as Reuters quoted him as saying that Nigeria where most people have been displaced by Boko Haram attacks did not send anyone to the United Nations event.

Reuters also said U.S. and European Union diplomats also expressed disappointment that Nigeria did not attend the event chaired by O’Brien on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

“These (displaced) families are being used as ammunition because it is the children that are used as bombers in markets and in train stations,” Reuters quoted Chad’s Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat, as saying at the meeting, adding “Trade is virtually wiped out in this area.”

Other U.N. diplomats at the meeting were also quoted as warning that the aid emergency in Lake Chad Basin risked being forgotten amid other humanitarian crises in Syria, Yemen and South Sudan.

Niger Prime Minister Brigi Rafini reportedly warned that the Lake Chad Basin area was in the midst of a “genuine disaster.”

“We need massive assistance from the international community,” he was quoted as saying, adding “It is the population that has shared with these refugees and displaced people the little they have while they themselves are living in extremely vulnerable situations.”

With some 2.3 million people forced to flee their homes since May 2013, and a quarter of a million of them having fled from Nigeria into Cameroon, Chad and Niger, with many walking hundreds of miles, Reuters quoted O’Brien as saying: “Droughts and floods hit the region repeatedly. Malnutrition and disease outbreaks hover at emergency levels. Some 5.5 million people do not have enough to eat. The emergence of Boko Haram has pushed them over the edge.”

Calling for fresh assistance to those displaced by the insurgency which is spreading fast across the area as the United States Friday announced $6.8 million in funding for regional aid efforts, O’Brien said appeals for 2015 to help the IDPs and refugees in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger were all less than half-funded.

No official explanation for the blunder has come from the Nigerian UN mission office as at the time of filing this report.