Reversing the complex humanitarian crises caused by Boko Haram terrorists in Northeast Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin requires joint efforts, Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Børge Brende, has said.
Brende, in his opening remarks on Friday at the international donor conference in Oslo for Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, obtained by the Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), pledged that the humanitarian crises in the area would be tackled together.
“We are here to address the severe humanitarian situation in northeastern Nigeria and the Lake Chad region.
“We aim at mobilising increased humanitarian support and enhancing longer-term development cooperation. Our goal should be to provide stability and growth in a troubled region.
“Many of today’s major challenges – terrorism, climate change, migration, extreme poverty – are too big for any one country to handle alone. We can only effectively deal with these issues together.
“For decades, people in this region have struggled with poverty and the harsh effects of climate change. Boko Haram’s terror caused a displacement crisis. Now it has become a severe food and nutrition crisis.
“We must act now, jointly, to tackle this complex humanitarian crisis, avoid famine in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, and secure long-term development that builds resilience.
“More than 10 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Seven million experience food insecurity.
“More than 1200 schools are damaged or destroyed. Three million children need educational assistance.
“The dire situation cannot be addressed by development assistance alone,” he said.
According to him, the governments of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria are in the driving seat.
It is a national responsibility to provide security and community services that will make daily life safe and stable for local and displaced populations, he said adding, your strong representation here today shows how committed you are, he said.
Brende noted that the region has a rich tradition for trade and markets, saying free movement of people and goods is essential to get the business going and attract investments as it is imperative in order to construct a prosperous future.
He said the task ahead is to ensure increased and efficient humanitarian assistance necessary to address the urgent food crisis.
“Conflict and climate change have caused alarming rates of hunger and malnutrition. Food assistance and support to subsistence farming in time for the planting season are crucial.”
He added that more support is required for education as 14 million primary school age children are out of school across the four countries, many of them in the conflict-ridden areas.
According to him, the right to education should be fulfilled for girls just as much as for boys as education is a prerequisite for development.
“It is essential to protect the millions of civilians who carry the main burden of this crisis through a principled humanitarian response.
“We need to defend the rights of refugees and displaced people. We must insist on compliance with International Humanitarian Law and put an end to attacks on health facilities and schools.
“To protect women and girls against sexual and gender-based violence should be the highest priority. Women should be included in efforts to build peace and development.”
With the country pledge of 192 million dollars in humanitarian assistance for the region, Brende said “we will significantly increase our contribution to Nigeria and the Lake Chad region in 2017 and the years to come.
“This multi-year commitment includes both humanitarian assistance and long term development aid”.