Nigeria’s Humanitarian Crisis Is Being Ignored By Europe

(Originally posted on February 2, 2017, from Affinity Magazine)

Recently, the U.N. Assistant Secretary General and lead humanitarian coordinator for the Sahel, Toby Lanzer stated that European countries have made little efforts to address northern Nigeria’s humanitarian crisis, as the crisis continues to be ignored. Lanzer also stated that the situation facing the Lake Chad region is also in the EU’s broader interests, as he stated, “It’s not only that we want Nigeria to be stable for the prosperity of that country and its people,” he said. “Also, it’s in our broader interests at home.” Lanzer continues to state that; “this is a double win if you want. You don’t want the most populous country on the African continent becoming increasingly unstable; at the same time, you want people there prospering and not having to flee violence or seek opportunity elsewhere.”

Currently, it is estimated that in the Lake Chad region, which straddles the borders of Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad, there are more than 10 million people in desperate and urgent need of humanitarian assistance, which Lanzer stated was as bad as any he had seen in 20 years.

Northern Nigeria’s humanitarian crisis occurred after the uprising of the Islamic extremist group, Boko Haram. Since conflict and violence broke out in 2009, more than 20,000 people have been killed and over 2 million people have been displaced, while it is estimated that 1.8 million people remain internally displaced.

A major donor conference will be held in Oslo, in which Nigeria, Germany, and Norway will come together to discuss the current matters regarding Nigeria’s humanitarian crisis. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Borge Brende, stated, “this crisis has been largely overlooked. We are therefore seeking to mobilize greater international involvement and increased funding for humanitarian efforts to prevent the situation from deteriorating further.” This conference will be conducted on the 24th of February.

In December, the UN called on global donors for $1.5 billion, in order to provide the urgent humanitarian assistance needed for the crisis in the Lake Chad region,including $1.05 billion for Nigeria. The 2016 appeal was originally for $531 million and had only received 53% of its funding, as of this month.

“There are about 515,000 children who are at risk of starvation right now, so step up, Netherlands; step up, Denmark. You have got to show some solidarity now and it is in your interests to do so.” Said Lanzer.

Aid Agencies Accused Of Profiting From Borno Crisis

(Originally posted on January 15, 2017, from Affinity Magazine)

The Governor of Nigeria’s north-eastern Borno state, Kashim Shettima, accused aid agencies of profiting off of the Borno crisis and not distributing the money where it is needed.

The Borno crisis is the result of a terrorist group called Boko Haram, who is perpetrating violence upon civilians, which has caused widespread displacement and a growing humanitarian crisis in Nigeria. This has resulted in up to 2.1 million fleeing their homes and according to UNOCHA more than 4.8 million people are now in urgent need of food assistance and 5.1 are believed to suffer from severe food shortages if not helped by the humanitarian community in 2017.

The Governor accused aid agencies such as the UN children’s fund and UNICEF of profiting from money that is supposed to go towards helping those fleeing Boko Haram’s Islamic uprising. Shettima stated that only eight of 126 registered agencies were achieving “good work”, including the WFP, UN Population Fund, the Red Cross, the International Origination for Migration, the Norwegian Refugee Council and the Danish Refugee Council.

The Governor made these accusations recently to MPs and journalists at the state legislature in Borno’s main city of Maiduguri. He stated, “people that are really ready to work are very much welcome here. But people that are here only to use us to make money may as well leave.” Shettima also stated that people were profiting “from the agony of our people.”

The Governor argued that the UN are wasting funds on bullet-proof vehicles. He stated, “We hardly know what the UN agencies are doing.” He said. “We only see them in some white flashy bullet-proof jeeps; apart from that, we hardly see their visible impact.” However, the UN have a reason for their use of expensive vehicles, as last year a UN convoy returning from a camp in rural Borno was attacked by Boko Haram fighters, in which everyone survived due to the safety and security of the vehicles.

UNICEF ‘s latest report said the agency treated 160,000 children under five who were suffering from severe acute malnutrition in 2016. They helped to provide health care for 4.2 million in the war zone, brought safe clean water to 745,000 people and in addition, they provided more than 1 million people with hygiene kits and education. Aid agencies have accused the government of hiding the extent of the humanitarian crisis, while the government has accused aid agencies of exaggerating the humanitarian crisis.