New York – The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock, has called for sustained humanitarian response to alleviate the suffering of the people in the Boko Haram-ravaged Northeast of Nigeria.
Lowcock, who stated this while giving a brief about his visit to Nigeria and the Niger Republic earlier this month, said vulnerable people were ‘a step away from starvation’ in the Lake Chad Basin region.
“Some 800,000 children are affected by acute malnutrition and almost 250,000 people are either internally displaced persons, returnees or refugees from Nigeria.
“In north-east Nigeria, around 6.5 million people need life-saving assistance. Nearly 5.2 million are severely food-insecure and 450,000 children will suffer from severe acute malnutrition, this year.
“The crisis in the Lake Chad Basin, which covers Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria and Chad, is complex as countries grapple with insecurity, climatic shocks, extreme poverty, the legacy of inadequate governance across vast parts of the region.
“But the way forward is also clear,” he asserted, highlighting the need to sustain the effective humanitarian response, and to ensure see better protection for people.
“Access has improved in many towns, but there’s also been a recent upsurge in horrific attacks on civilians in all four countries.
“In Niger, hostage-taking has increased, while in Nigeria children have been used as ‘human bombs’,” the UN aid chief said.
He said the scale up of international assistance to the Lake Chad Basin this year had averted a famine in north-east Nigeria, even though millions of people are still suffering.
“There are still millions of people who have suffered a lot and continue to suffer, many of them just a step away from starvation.”
He said that in field visits to Maiduguri, Pulka, and Gwoza in Borno, he met “extremely vulnerable people” displaced by conflict.
“Those people want to go home, they want a chance to rebuild their lives. But they want to do that when it’s safe to do so,” Lowcock stressed. (NAN)