In its bid to bring the dare living conditions of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), will next week hold an International Conference in Oslo, Norway.
The event is part of efforts to seek for more meaningful commitments by the international community for the funding of the UNDP’s humanitarian response activities, besides offering the Federal and state governments of Nigeria an opportunity to tell the world the true extent of the crisis in its war ravaged North East region.
Addressing newsmen during breakfast meeting, Edward Kallon, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, said “the Humanitarian Response Plan 2017 for Nigeria seeks more than US$ 1 billion to meet the needs of the 6.9 million people targeted – we are hoping to raise more than this at the end of the Conference in Oslo.”
Noting the seriousness of the funding gap, he warned that “a repeat of 2016 situation when activities were severely hampered by funding shortfall (only 53% was received) will expose vulnerable children, women girls and youths to risks the country may fail to deal with in the future.”
Speaking against the background of the January 17, airstrike at the IDP camp in Rann, Borno State, he urged stakeholders to comply with their obligations under the International Humanitarian Law to ensure that civilians are not affected by the hostilities.
“The humanitarian community stands committed to continue providing assistance to the conflict-affected people,” he further stressed, but noted that although the humanitarian community scales up its interventions in the region, there are still some 8.5 million people in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states who need require assistance.
About 6.9 million of these described as most critically in need will be targeted by humanitarian partners, he stressed, blaming prolonged development deficit and lack of knowledge as among the root-causes of the insurgency in the North East.
Long-term solutions to the crisis, Kallon continued, requires that both the State and Federal Governments implement programmes that will address these root-causes.
“More than 1 million IDPs have returned to their LGAs of origin (mainly Adamawa and Yobe) since August 2015 and the number continues to increase rapidly. However, many of them are stranded in secondary displacement sites because of ongoing insecurity, destroyed infrastructure and absence of basic services.
“I would like to urge the authorities to ensure that all returns of people to their homes are safe and voluntary, well-informed based on up-to-date and accurate information, and respect people’s dignity. There should be no forced returns, which would include the arbitrary closure of camps without guarantees of safety, access to basic services, critical infrastructure and humanitarian assistance.
“I would like to emphasize on the need for effective reintegration programmes for women, men, girls and boys previously held by Boko Haram is essential. Studies indicate that people who were held by Boko Haram face rejection from families and communities.”
Such reintegration programme, he believes, should include rebuilding infrastructure and livelihood support needs to run in parallel with social and psychosocial reintegration programmes that would effectively rebuild ravaged communities.
“It is time to plant a seed of hope in the suffering communities – enough is enough,” he urged stakeholders, who he challenged to make returns sustainable, just as “recovery, reconstruction and peace building plans should be supported in areas where there is safe access.
“The rehabilitation and reconstruction of critical infrastructure like schools, hospitals, government administration blocks, among others, will significantly improve the normalization of life in newly-accessible areas. The earlier we begin our recovery interventions the better as these will also provide emergency employment to the local communities.
“We need to scale our response in providing durable solutions to the crisis. This should include provision of immediate employment for vulnerable, improving skills and access to longer term livelihoods opportunities, construction of permanent shelters/houses and reconstruction of key public infrastructure. The International Community needs to support efforts that bridge the humanitarian-development nexus, and begin to implement interventions that seek collective outcomes and localisation of response,” he said.
Kallon expressed optimism that “Nigeria will rise above its current challenges – whether it is economy, insecurity or governance related. The UN is working hard to strengthen partnerships with the government, improving our efficiency and making sure our interventions are effective.”