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Donors called on to support the United Nations as it reaches communities in rural Borno

By Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
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UN agencies and non-governmental organisations are increasing their footprint in Nigeria's Borno State, and the UN has now reached people struck by crisis in rural parts of the region. Arriving in Bama town, some 76 kilometres outside Maiduguri near the Sambisa forest and largely destroyed by violence, United Nations Assistant Secretary- General and Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, Toby Lanzer, underlined, “The suffering of some 30,000 people in Bama was as acute as I have seen.”

The full extent of the agony inflicted on the people of the Lake Chad Basin as a result of the violence is still unknown, but as towns such as Bama open to aid agencies, the absolute destruction Boko Haram has left in its wake is becoming clearer. “Inter-agency teams are currently assessing more hard-to-reach parts of the state. We are increasingly emphasizing the relief-development nexus in a region that suffered from historical underdevelopment,” explained the recently arrived United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Ms Fatma Samoura. “When faced with such suffering, we tend to focus on an emergency response, and in the case of Bama it is right to do so, but rarely has the need for development been greater in a crisis setting such as that of Borno,” Lanzer explained. “Some UN development agencies stand ready to support communities under the leadership of the authorities,” he added. Borno's capital, Maiduguri, is a city of 1 million inhabitants who are hosting a 1.6 million people displaced by Boko Haram. There Lanzer focused his visit on the host communities, all of whom have shown unparalleled generosity. Lanzer called on donors to back development initiatives in the region concurrently with the emergency response. “Solid waste management and livelihoods are two of the most glaring needs in Maiduguri despite the strong efforts of the State authorities. As the rainy season approaches, a failure to manage waste will result in a public health crisis and exacerbate human suffering; at the same time, providing the youth vocational training is the right thing to do today, and can help prevent a deeper crisis emerging tomorrow,” he added. The international humanitarian agencies operating in Nigeria plan to provide aid to people in the North-East of Nigeria at a cost of US$248 million for 2016, yet is only 12 per cent funded. “We are facing one of the largest and most grave crises anywhere,” Lanzer underlined, “and donors now need to provide aid agencies the resources to complement the State's work to keep people alive and address the root cause of the crisis.”