By Hamza Suleiman
Maiduguri – The Chinese Government has committed five million dollars to boost the humanitarian support of World Food Programme (WFP) to Internally Displaced Persons(IDPs) in the northeastern part of Nigeria.
The Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian, made this known on Monday during the presentation of 4.3 metric tons of rice to WFP in Maiduguri.
Pingjian said that the support was designed to cater to the emergency food needs of the victims of Boko Haram insurgency, particularly the IDPs.
He said that the Chinese Government had also committed additional 7.23 million dollars worth of emergency food assistance for IDPs, which would last till June this year.
“When emergency needs arise; then, help should come from all corners. This is a universal thing; Nigeria and China are very good friends, partners and brothers.
“’So it is only natural when China helps its Nigerian brothers especially when they are in severe situations. Today, we are here to collaborate with the World Food Programme (WFP) in its laudable efforts.
“By doing this, we want to send a strong message that the Chinese people and its government are always with their Nigerian brothers and sisters.
“This year, we have a lot of cooperation with Nigeria, especially in the area of infrastructure and agriculture. We are currently working on the China-Nigeria Agricultural Cooperative.
“By doing this, the Nigerian agricultural sector and other sectors will grow.
“We working with Nigeria to revolutionise the agricultural sector, whereby we eat what we grow and grow what we eat.
“We have also invited many Chinese investors to come and invest in Nigeria. The investment of China in Nigeria is increasing very fast and this means that the Nigerian economy will grow,’’ he said.
Speaking, Mr Ronald Sibanda, the Country Representative of WFP, described the contribution of the Chinese Government as very timely because of the funding shortfalls of his agency.
Sibanda said that the five million dollars was used to procure about 4.3 metric tons of rice, which would meet the food needs of about 400,000 IDPs.
“Last month (April), more than 1.1 million beneficiaries, mostly IDPs from Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states in IDPs camps and host communities, benefitted from the WFP food assistance,” he said.
He said that funding shortfalls had been a major challenge facing the WFP project before the support from the Chinese government.
“Funding shortfalls had been our major challenge and this had forced WFP to deliver below-optimal rations and this is causing food-pipeline breaks that continue to constrain the scale up of WFP response as the lean season approaches.
“Also, the security situation remains fragile and unpredictable and access to some of the worst affected people remains a major concern.
“With the rainy season, which is expected to begin in May/June, many access roads may be impassable due to flooding.
“In May this year, WFP will be targeting 1.3 million persons,’’ he added.