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UN Calls National, International Partners to Address HumanitarianNeeds of Crisis Affected North East

By Ahmed Abu, The Nigerian Voice, Maiduguri
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The United Nations Development Programme Administrator , Mr. Achim Steiner and Emergency Relief Coordinator , Mr. Mark Lowcock have on Saturday called on national and international development and humanitarian partners to reinforce joint efforts to address the dire humanitarian needs in the conflict-affected north-eastern Nigerian states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.

They also urged governments and organizations due to level of vulnerability of the over 7 million people affected and displaced by the insurgency in the north east to to speed up the recovery of livelihoods programmes for the IDPs.

The Senior UN Chiefs who stated Saturday at a press briefing with journalists held at the UN OCHA Conference Maiduguri during their two-day joint official visit to Nigeria, said they have earlier met with the Nigerian Minister of Finance, Hajiya Zeinab Ahmed, top government officials including minister of budget and national planning as well as other high-level officials on Humanitarian Development Report in the North East of Nigeria for immediate collaboration and respond.

They also inspected UN projects in Bama town and commission Ngwom community school buildings in Borno state, which is the worst state affected by the ten-year conflict, where humanitarian and development workers are providing life-saving assistance and implementing development programmes.

The two officials heard first-hand testimonies from people affected by the Lake Chad Basin crisis who are trying to rebuild their lives.

“We are committed to Nigeria and to the people of Nigeria,” said Mr. Lowcock.

“We are here to support the Government’s leadership towards solutions in the north-east. Humanitarian aid can only be a temporary solution.

I am pleased to be here with the UNDP Administrator to help join up humanitarian and development efforts to save lives, help stabilize the situation, rebuild lives and communities for the future. We must do everything we can to prevent this crisis from continuing for years.

“We have a unique opportunity to make a real difference to communities across the north-east of Nigeria,” said Mr. Steiner.

“Helping people affected by the crisis requires us to work together – humanitarian and development organisations alike – to tackle immediate humanitarian needs and the root causes of the crisis," Steiner said.

The Government of Nigeria has launched recovery initiatives and efforts in north-east Nigeria aimed at rapid stabilization.

Mr. Lowcick noted also that early recovery and livelihood activities implemented by UN agencies and international and local NGOs seek to address the underlying causes of the conflict, lay the foundations for sustainable development and prevent aid dependency.

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator further said that the humanitarian crisis in Nigeria’s north-east has spilled over into the Lake Chad region. It remains one of the most severe in the world today with 7.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in the worst-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe alone.

Lowcock added that Food security and the nutrition situation remains extremely fragile across the north-east, particularly given the high levels of aid dependency, compounded by the lack of access to land or other livelihood opportunities.

While Mr. Steiner disclosed that Up to 3 million people are estimated to suffer from critical food insecurity. Almost a million children aged from 6 months to 5 years are acutely malnourished, with 440,000 facing Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM).

He also said that the visit followed an international donor conference held in Berlin in early September during which international donors pledged US$2.5 billion for humanitarian, stabilization and recovery projects in the Lake Chad region.

Earlier, the 2018 Human Development Report which highlights the human development issues in North-East Nigeria and explores avenues for expanding people’s choices and freedoms in the crisis region was earlier launched Thursday by both the UN Chiefs in Abuja along with the Minister of Finance Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Budget and Planning and Chairman Senate Committee in Finance, Senator Udoma Udoma.