By Richard Abu
An aggressive $1billion humanitarian programme has been launched by the United Nations (UN) and over 200 international and national non-government organisations (NGOs) to make life better for the victims of the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East zone.
Among the key drivers of the new initiative for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and others in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states are the World Food Programme (WFP) led by its Regional Director, Mr. Abdul Dieng and the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon.
At the launch of the a�?Humanitarian Response Plana�? (HRP) in Abuja on Thursday, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, said that 25.1 million people are affected by the humanitarian crisis in the six states of the North East with 10.2million of them in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.
In his presentation and interaction with journalists, Mr. Dieng expressed confidence that the $1billion target will be met because both local and international humanitarian agencies are committed to the project.
He said that the fund would be used to provide food security and nutrition for the victims in the insurgency-ravaged states.
According to him, there is a $196 million carry over from the 2017 fund, which will be used for the first quarter of 2018. He therefore stressed the need for the international community, individuals and the private sector to key into the project.
Dieng said that 50 per cent of the $1billion fund will go into food security and nutrition for the people in the states.
He said that the number of critically food insecure people in the region dropped significantly in 2017, but noted without sustained assistance, 3.7million will be at risk this year.
Dieng said that WFP working with 60 organisations in 2018 will sustain and even expand assistance in kind and in cash as well as nutrition programmes to the beneficiaries.
To Kallon, 7.7million people are in need of humanitarian assistance this year in the worst-affected states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, adding that 6.1million of them are targeted under the 2018 HRP to have access to a�?food, water, protection, shelter and sanitation. Others are medicine, education, and agricultural supporta��a�?
He said that a�?for the 1.6 million people who are displaced from their homes, and communities that host them, we need to find durable solutions. This requires longer planning horizons, more strategic interventions and flexible, longer-term funding.a�?
The minister, however, said that another 4.1million most affected people are in the other states in the region, adding that 450,000 of them are the aged and the elderly.
Mrs. Ahmed said that the Federal Government will in 2018 work more with the international community to improve the living standards of the people in the region, hinting that the Muhammadu Buhari administration in 2016 committed $3.3billion and $2.3billion in 2017 to the rebuilding of the North East states and rehabilitating victims of the insurgency.
The minister said that the same figure is projected in the 2018 budget at present before the National Assembly. This will be complemented by the $1billion recently approved by the National Economic Council (NEC) to be drawn from the Excess Crude Account.
The United States (US) Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Symington, who dwelt on a�?Between changing lives and saving livesa�?, said that a�?we must do what we can to save this nation (Nigeria) from terror for the sake of the whole world.a�?
Symington said that the trend in Nigeria before was a�?how many will die?a�?, but now a�?what quality of life will the people in the crisis-hit states live?a�?
By Richard Abu