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Insurgency has claimed 37,000 lives, displaced 2.2m people in North East, says UN

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The Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast, which is in its 12th year, has claimed 37,000 lives and displaced 2.2 million people.

United Nations (UN) Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Edward Kallon, disclosed this at the opening of the maiden UN humanitarian retreat organised to bring lasting peace to the Northeast at the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja.

He said: “At the peak of the crisis, over 2.2 million people were displaced in the BAY States and another 303,963 Nigerian refugees in neighbouring countries in Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

“The situation is also very dynamic and 1.9 million people remain internally displaced in the worst affected states and an estimated 1.6 million people that have returned to relatively safe areas.

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“We are currently facing unprecedented challenges with increasing levels of violence, not just in the Northeast but also elsewhere in Nigeria.

“We are also facing, as a result of this, a shrinking humanitarian space, a real threat to humanitarian staff, facilities and operations.

“We are still reeling from the impact of COVID-19, including the socio-economic impact of the pandemic in Nigeria.

“The COVID-19 pandemic will also likely have a profound impact on our funding environment, with available funding either stagnant or reducing in the year and, likely, beyond 2021.”

Kallon said noted that humanitarian needs were increasing due to continuing violence displacing people, as well as a looming food crisis putting up to 4.4 million people at risk.

“Unless we manage to stave off and prevent this crisis, it could deteriorate to catastrophic levels,” he warned.
Kallon congratulated the Borno State government for the recent options provided to displaced persons on return to their homes and sought collaboration with other state governments to find ways to jointly find solutions without putting people at risk.

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He indicated that peace remained the only solution to humanitarian problems in the Northeast and called for the prioritisation of crisis prevention through dialogue.

The Federal Government, on its part, reiterated its commitment to providing the needed humanitarian assistance to the vulnerable across the country as the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, made this known at the two-day retreat, which ended yesterday in Abuja.

The minister thanked the Humanitarian Country Team under the leadership of Kallon for being a worthy and reliable partner at the forefront of supporting the government in providing the needed assistance to the vulnerable across Nigeria. Farouq also reeled out government’s medium and long term plans to tackle its humanitarian needs.

“The government is scaling up efforts to provide durable solutions for the return, reintegration and resettlement of affected communities,” she said.

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According to her, the launch of the 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan by the ministry and the UN Office for the Coordination of Affairs (UNOCHA) would go a long way in addressing those in need.

“As part of the commitment of the Federal Government to coherently coordinate humanitarian assistance in the country, it has developed a National Humanitarian Development Peace Framework (NHDPF) through the National Humanitarian Coordination Committee (NHCC).”

This framework, she said, seeks to ensure peace, stability and resilience in Nigeria by promoting homegrown approaches to proactively address critical humanitarian and development challenges.

According to her, to successfully address the humanitarian crisis in Nigeria, collaboration was needed from all relevant stakeholders, such as continuous interaction and cooperation between the Humanitarian Country Team, the Federal Government, security agencies and other relevant actors.

“This will enhance sustainable peace and simultaneously provide development opportunities, especially in conflict affected areas in the country,” she said.

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