24 Mar 2015
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United Nations humanitarian chief Valerie Amos has approved US$28 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to support life-saving relief work for people fleeing violence in Nigeria.

More than 1.2 million Nigerians have been driven from their homes as a result of Boko Haram-related violence which escalated dramatically since the start of 2015. Over 150,000 people have fled to neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, putting a further strain on some of the most vulnerable communities in the world.

“The insurgency in the northeast of Nigeria is having a devastating impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people,” said Ms. Amos.

“This allocation from CERF will be used to support people in the most vulnerable communities who have been directly affected by the violence. It will provide urgently needed humanitarian relief including food, clean water, shelter, medicine, protection and security, particularly for women and children who are exposed to or have experienced violence and brutality.”

Immense suffering

Following their recent visit to the city of Yola, near the Nigerian-Cameroonian border, John Ging, Operations Director for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and Afshan Khan, Director of Emergency Programmes for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), briefed journalists in New York about the growing humanitarian crisis.

“We saw first-hand the impact of conflict in north-east Nigeria … people have suffered immensely,” said Mr. Ging.

He noted that 90 per cent of those displaced, have been integrated into host communities “and that places a huge burden on them.” In Yola alone, the city’s population had doubled from 300,000 to 600,000.

Like many places in the Sahel, most communities where the newly displaced have sought refuge already face food insecurity and malnutrition, and are prone to disease outbreaks and natural disasters. They often already host hundreds of thousands of refugees, returnees and migrants who have escaped violence and hardship throughout the region.

Ms. Khan said that the conflict in north-eastern Nigeria had been one of the deadliest in terms of its impact on children. “Thousands of them have been victims of grave human rights violations and children have been abducted, recruited as child soldiers and girls have been raped and forced into early marriage,” she said.

She added that despite their horrific ordeal, affected people’s asks were “extremely humble – protection and justice, a plot of land, an opportunity for a livelihood, access to healthcare, and education for their children – and we must all work to support them.”

Regional coordinated

Given the urgent need to scale up humanitarian operations and assist those in need across affected countries, a regionally coordinated $28 million rapid-response allocation will go to relief agencies operating in Nigeria ($10 million), Cameroon ($7 million), Niger ($7 million) and Chad ($4 million).

The allocation will “enable rapid surge and increase in international humanitarian action,” said Mr. Ging. He also called on donors for additional support, noting that the humanitarian appeal for Nigeria was heavily underfunded.

In 2014, CERF allocated more than $8.7 million to relief agencies responding to the regional impact of ongoing crisis in Nigeria. Almost $3.6 million went to life-saving relief, including the provision of clean water, health services and protection in Nigeria, and another $5.2 million allowed humanitarian partners to provide urgent food, shelter and medical support to refugees and host communities in Niger.