By Josephine Ella-Ejeh
The United Kingdom (UK) has announced an additional £200 million support package of emergency relief for North-East Nigeria with effect from 2018 – 2022.
A press release obtained by Global Sentinel from the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), indicated that the International Development Secretary, Priti Patel announced the new package of humanitarian support during a visit to Maiduguri.
With this, the country’s existing £100 million humanitarian support for 2017 would increase to £300m which is expected to cover the next five years.
UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson and International Development Secretary, Priti Patel had visited Maiduguri on Wednesday, as part of the UK’s increasing support to saving lives and rebuilding northeast Nigeria.
The UK is one of the biggest donors supporting UNICEF’s humanitarian response in northeast Nigeria and its work in other parts of the country.
“Parts of northeast Nigeria including the outskirts of Maiduguri – a city that the Secretaries of State visited – have been decimated by attacks from Boko Haram. The militant group have killed over 20,000 people, displaced 1.7 million and left 8.5 million in desperate need of urgent support. Ongoing attacks continue to destroy communities, with recent reports of children being forced to carry suicide bombs,” the press release recalled.
It said: “The UK’s increased support would extend DFID’s humanitarian programme in Nigeria over five years (2017-2022) to deliver:
Life saving food for more than 1.5 million people and treatment for up to 120,000 children at risk of dying from malnutrition-related causes.”
Others areas the grant would cover are, “ongoing support to help keep 100,000 girls and boys in education, providing a brighter future for the next generation; and humanitarian access to transport aid workers delivering assistance to the hardest to reach areas, for example using helicopters where roads are blocked or dangerous to use.”
Patel described in the press release as catastrophic, the killing of at least 20,000 people by Boko Haram’s terrorist regime, which also left over five million people hungry and many homeless.
“Babies’ bodies are shutting down and mothers who have lost everything are fighting to keep their children alive. Global Britain is a country that stands tall in the world and the UK will not turn its back on people living in danger and desperation,” he added.
On his part, Johnson was quoted in the press release as lamenting that: “Boko Haram has generated suffering, instability and poverty on a huge scale, with profound knock on effects far from Nigeria’s borders, and I am proud of Britain’s commitment to supporting the Nigerian people in tackling terror.”
He continues: “In Maiduguri I met casualties of Boko Haram violence, including bomb and gunshot victims and saw for myself the displacement of people that brutality and poverty have created.”
According to the press release, the new £200 million support package of emergency relief also includes the restoration of key infrastructure and services in northeast Nigeria.
“The support includes giving children living in conflict zones an education, improving access to health care, helping smallholder famers to restore their livelihoods and produce food to generate higher incomes and introducing innovative solar energy to power schools and health centres.
The programme will be delivered through capable and cost effective partners including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); UN agencies such as UNICEF, WFP, United Nations Humanitarian Air Service; INGOs and private sector partners,” it further explained.