By Rabiu Sani
Maiduguri – Mr Mark Lowcock, the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said the organisation’s prompt humanitarian interventions had saved millions of lives in the troubled North-East.
Lowcock, who paid a two-day visit to Nigeria, however, said the complex crisis in the Lake Chad Basin required sustained international support in the coming years.
This is contained in a statement signed by Samantha Newport, Head of Communications, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Nigeria, and issued on Wednesday in Maiduguri.
Lowcock commended the Nigerian Government over its commitment and emergency food intervention programme designed to provide food assistance to persons displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East.
“The Government’s leadership and coordination of the humanitarian effort is commendable. I welcome the Vice President’s assurance to me that the Government’s own food aid programme will be extended into the future.
“The international system has rapidly scaled up and saved millions of lives. We reached two million people with food assistance every month and have provided hundreds of thousands of children with life-saving nutritional support.
“We have averted famine, but millions of people are still at risk if more international help is not forthcoming,” he said, warning that the humanitarian situation remained precarious.
Lowcock stressed the need for ensuring safety and protection of civilians in the troubled North-East and Lake Chad Basin.
He noted that the eight-year long violence had resulted in widespread forced displacement and systematic violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.
“Since the beginning of the conflict more than 20, 000 people were killed, thousands of women and children abducted,” the UN official lamented.
Lowcock, who visited Gwoza and Pulka, some of the liberated communities in Borno, noted that humanitarian interventions had recorded success and alleviated the sufferings of the displaced persons in the region.
The UN official stressed that urgent measures were necessary to end the crisis and facilitate movement of people to return to their homes as well as extend humanitarian assistance to those in need.
“At the next week General Assembly in New York, I will urge world leaders to maintain their financial and political support for the Lake Chad Basin crisis.
“And to work with Nigerian authorities to bring stability to the North-East and the region so that one day displaced persons can feel safe enough to go home”.
According to statistics from the UN, about 17 million people require humanitarian assistance in the Lake Chad Basin, including 8.5 million in North-East of Nigeria.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Lowcock visited Nigeria and Niger Republic between Sept. 9 and Sept. 12, shortly after assuming duty as the UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. (NAN)
Lowcock also met with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyama, Borno Deputy Governor, Usman Durkwa, officials of the UN humanitarian agencies and international Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs), amongst others.