By Ojonugwa Ugboja
ABUJA (Sundiata Post) – The United Nations on Thursday launched the organisation’s 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan covering the states affected by Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast of Nigeria.
The event, which was held at Ladi Kwali Hall, Sheraton Hotel, Abuja, was well attended by top government officials, high commission and embassy representatives, donors and development partners.
While giving the opening remark, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Samuel Olajide, noted that the launch of the 2018 plan was a step in the right direction and that the plan was all encompassing because vital lessons from previous plans have been adapted. He also commended the UN, their donors and partners for their helpful humanitarian intervention in Nigeria.
According to the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, the launch of the plan demonstrated the international humanitarian community’s commitment to Nigeria.
He stated that 6.1 million of the total 7.7 million people in dire need of humanitarian aid in the worst affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe are being targeted for humanitarian assistance in the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan by 60 organisations, including UN agencies and international and national NGOs.
‘’This humanitarian assistance ranges from food, protection, water, shelter and sanitation, to medicine, education and agricultural support, and will be delivered to vulnerable women, children and men across the three states.
‘’The aim in 2018 is to build on the humanitarian work carried out in previous years and we have three strategic objectives. The first is to provide life-saving emergency assistance to the most vulnerable people in conflict-affected areas, ensuring that assistance is timely and to-scale. The second is to ensure that all assistance promotes the protection, safety and dignity of affected people, and is provided equitably to women, girls, men and boys. The third is to help people kick-start their lives again and also reconstruct the foundations of their lives so that they are better prepared to face future crises. This includes the 1.3 million people who have returned home, but also includes those who have decided to stay where they are and try and rebuild their lives,’’ he said.
Despite the organisation’s ability to reduce the number of food insecure people from 5.1 million to 3.9 million in 2017 as well as the curtailment of cholera outbreak, among other successes, Mr Kallon said that there were still a number of challenges to contend with, especially the 1.6 million displaced people that needs to be re-accommodated.
The solution, according to him, required ‘’longer planning horizons, more strategic interventions and flexible, longer-term funding.’’
The UN, according to Mr Kallon, has also committed $1.5 billion in supporting local non-hovernmental organisations in order to enhance their capacity to meet up with International humanitarian standards.
The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, was full of appreciation for the work done by the UN and other humanitarian organisations in Nigeria.
She assured them of the Nigerian government’s commitment to ending the humanitarian crisis in the north east.
She said: ‘’The government has so far created a safe environment to enable humanitarian intervention in the region. The government has demonstrated leadership and coordination in the region and has also achieved significant security improvement.’’
The minister also mentioned the huge financial commitment made by the Federal Government and the affected states in tackling these obvious challenges.
The major areas of commitment of the government, according to her, have to do with protection, community engagement, accountability and bridging the gap between humanitarian actors and their work environment.