By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
Touched by the devastation that has affected the people of the north east as a result of the activities of Boko Haram insurgents, the European Union (EU) Commission on Thursday in Brussels, Belgium, announced a support package of €143 million to help the early recovery and reconstruction needs of the area.
The package is for the provision of basic services including energy, education and health, job creation, strengthening monitoring and evaluation systems as well as public financial management systems.
The package was unfolded when Nigeria’s Budget and National Planning Minister, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma arrived Belgium for a meeting with EU officials on Thursday.
At the meeting where the package was announced, Udoma signed the package agreement on behalf of Nigeria and said the support showed yet another positive effort in the collaboration between the EU and the Nigerian Government to collectively work towards ameliorating the sufferings of the victims of Boko Haram insurgency.
The Minister noted that the Financing Agreement signed on Thursday was for the sum of €20 million from the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. “A total sum of €143 million is now secured from the EU under this framework for ameliorating of the sufferings of the affected population estimated at more than 14 million people,” he added.
He said that since the resurgence of the humanitarian situation in the North East, the Nigerian government has devoted substantial resources to bring the situation under control, meet the humanitarian needs of the victims and restore normalcy to the area.
However, in spite of the efforts, the Minister said there is still a huge funding gap, which is why the Nigerian Government appreciates the support of the EU and the United Nations systems, which have been very useful in leading the other development partners in the support process.
Senator Udoma noted that the process for the selection of implementation partners has reached an advanced stage with the World Bank and some of the components of the project.
“This demonstrates the fact that the EU is committed to timely execution of the project and the bureaucracy that is traditionally associated with the EDF instrument will be minimized in the implementation of this project,” he added.
EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, said the support package will assist approximately 1.3 million internally displaced people and affected communities in and around the Borno State.
“Our assistance will not only target the immediate needs of the people but, it will also help to restore basic services, stimulate employment and create livelihood opportunities, particularly for women and young people”.
Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides added: “The European Union is committed to get lifesaving aid to those in need in Nigeria. Emergency aid can help them but to do so aid organisations need safe and full access to do their job.”
He added that EU also needs to think about the long term implications and how to help communities recover.
“I have visited the country several times and seen the suffering caused by the victims of terrorism but also the strength and determination of the local people to rebuild their lives. It is this desire to rebuild a better future that the EU will support.”