Mukaila Ola in Maiduguri
United Nations has lamented that 4.3 million people are now facing hunger and food insecurity in troubled North East.
This is part of gloomy stories that came out of an High-Level Online Briefing
on the Humanitarian Situation in North-East Nigeria which was held on Thursday.
At the briefing titled: “North-East Nigeria: Act Now, Avert the Worst,” which was facilitated by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadia Umar-Farouq and United Nations Resident Representative and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Edward Kallon many other bleak pictures were painted as humanitarian actors could only raised 29 percent of the funds needed to address humanitarian crisis in the troubled region.
The other sad news are that over 583,420 children-under-five and 269,492 pregnant and breastfeeding mothers will face severe acute and moderate malnutrition. He said that they are likely to experience medical complications, and be at higher risk of dying because of inadequate coverage of health services.
Others include that 255,619 children suffering from severe malnutrition will risk dying; 2.5 million people will lack access to clean water and sanitation, increasing the risk of COVID-19 and outbreaks of waterborne diseases like cholera spreading across overcrowded camps and host communities; 4.5 million will remain without access to basic health services and exposed to killers such as measles, malaria and failed child births.
The resurgence of polio will threaten the whole sub-region with 4.2 million children will miss out on education, be destabilised and their future will be in jeopardy.
He also said that 800,000 children will be exposed to risks of abductions, kidnappings, forced recruitment into armed groups, enslavement, and use in suicide attacks.
According to Kalon, about 1.8 million IDPs currently living in camps, camp-like settings, and within the host communities will lack protection and assistance and nearly 500,000 IDPs projected to arrive from inaccessible areas will be without life-saving assistance at reception centres.
Some 1.6 million returnees with limited services and no access to livelihoods, will be at risk of further displacement and nearly 2 million people will be at heightened risk of protection-related issues, including continual displacement, violations of rights, exploitation, violence, and abuse.
Women and children survivors of sexual and gender-based violence risk being left without assistance and psycho-social support.
It was also revealed that with US$1 million funding lives would be saved and there will be direct improvement in the situation of the most vulnerable.
Total 7,700 children, mothers and pregnant women could be saved from malnutrition; 10,500 people could receive the food they need or the means to restart their livelihoods
It will allow 24,000 people to have access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation; 32,100 persons would access essential
health care, medicine and be spared from
epidemics; 13,200 people would be able to sleep on mattresses, with a roof over their heads and receive basic household utensils.
Also 56,400 children will resume an education despite the odds, and will be less likely to be forcibly recruited by armed groups; 14,200 people would be given the tools and the skills to rebuild their lives and recover from the crisis
The total of 37,100 women and girls will be given support to address gender-based violence and 66,700 vulnerable children will have opportunity to receive care and
protection they need.
The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator said: “Nigeria today, and particularly the conflict affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe – the so- called BAY states, are facing unprecedented challenges. A resurgence in violence continues to ravage entire communities eleven years into a protracted conflict. We are also facing extraordinary challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic – a global health crisis – that no country was adequately prepared for.”
He said: “A few years ago, our rapid joint mobilisation succeeded in reversing a situation where hundreds of thousands of people were on the verge of famine. Not only was famine averted, but many people who had seen their lives shattered by the conflict were starting to rebuild their lives and communities. There were hopes that we had turned a corner and we could start focusing on recovery and development.
“Today, these hard-won gains are in jeopardy. Ladies and gentlemen, as we speak, the number of people needing humanitarian assistance in the BAY states, is the highest ever recorded in the five years of a joint humanitarian response. At least 10.6 million people need our assistance to survive. This is roughly the population of Belgium and twice the population of Norway.
“Despite tremendous efforts by the humanitarian community to feed over 2.5 million people, violent attacks continue preventing people from reaching their lands and rebuilding their livelihoods. Every year of the crisis, an additional one million people have become food insecure.
“The steep rise in prices, as well as movement restrictions, due to the COVID-19 pandemic have caused insufferable shocks. An estimated 4.3 million people are now facing food insecurity at crisis or emergency levels. Increased food insecurity will lead to higher levels of malnutrition. Without immediate support, one out of five malnourished children could die without treatment.”
Kallon added that: “Children and women, in particular, are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prevention measures, such as lockdowns, physical distancing, and school closures are impeding education, jeopardizing the future of 4.2 million children. Protection concerns are paramount, and the risks of exploitation, domestic violence and abuse are higher than ever, for women, boys and girls.
“At the same time as we are fighting the pandemic, I have been shocked, saddened and outraged by the brutal attacks targeting civilians, including aid workers, in recent weeks. Incidents in which villages have been brutally attacked, houses and property set ablaze, and people burned alive.”
He lamented that: “Today, 1.9 million people remain internally displaced in the BAY states. Since the beginning of the year, nearly 60,000 people were forced to flee their homes, some for the second or third time. More than a third of these are sleeping out in the open.
“Community transmission of COVID-19 is a grave concern and we must take urgent action to prevent the virus from taking hold in IDP camps. Four out of five people in these camps are living in overcrowded conditions, with makeshift and temporary shelters – built in close proximity to each other – making physical distancing impossible.
“Expanding camps and building new shelters is, therefore, a priority and we welcome the support provided by the Borno State Governor to our camp decongestion plans. While it is our priority for IDPs to be able to return home, unfortunately, persistent insecurity may not yet present conducive conditions for safe, voluntary and dignified returns.
I would like to commend and extend my sincere gratitude to Nigerian authorities, local communities and humanitarian organisations for their efforts and excellent collaboration to stem the Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria from the outset.”
He said: “The UN and partner NGOs are collectively appealing for $1.08bn to provide urgent aid to 7.8 million vulnerable people. The funding needed is less than $12 a month to save someone’s life.
Not only are the number of people in need increasing, but we also have additional costs, such as constructing quarantine shelters to curb the spread of the coronavirus, as well as other measures to keep affected populations and our staff safe.”
He lamented that: “Funding for the humanitarian operation is, however, at a historic low. More than half-way through the year, aid organisations have received less than a third of the funds desperately needed to provide life-saving assistance to nearly 8 million people.”
Kallon said: “We know that many of our donors are facing extraordinary economic and social challenges at home as a result of the pandemic, that will require vast resources. At the same time, we are hoping that you will be able to find the resources needed to ensure that humanitarian needs are met, not just in Nigeria but also elsewhere.
“Now is the time for all stakeholders to take coordinated action, sustained by sufficient resources. All actors urgently need to work together to strengthen a principled response and facilitate access to the most vulnerable people to maintain hard-won gains, and prevent the humanitarian crisis in north-east Nigeria from reaching catastrophic levels.”
UN and NGO partners have reviewed the budget necessary to provide urgent assistance to the most vulnerable populations in the conflict-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. The number of people who need humanitarian assistance rose by almost 50%: from 7.1 million people to 10.6 million people due to the resurgence in violent attacks against civilians but also and mostly with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. UN and partner NGOs are now appealing for a total of $1.08 billion for the 2020. So far only 30 % have been received ($321.9 million). This is about 30 cents to support each person in need for a whole year.
At the briefing include, Governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, Country Representative, UNICEF, Peter Hawkins, Country Representative, World Food Programme, Paul Howe, Country Director, Christian Aid, Charles Usie, Chairman of the North- East Civil Society Forum, Ambassador Ahmed Shehu, Minister Counsellor for the Lake Chad Basin, United Kingdom, John Primrose.