Maiduguri – The United Nations promised on Wednesday to mobilize resources from donor countries toward tackling humanitarian crisis in the North-East, ravaged by the Boko Haram terrorism.
Mr Toby Lanzer, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for Sahel Region, made the pledge in Maiduguri, shortly after touring some liberated communities in Borno.
“The humanitarian consequences are very grave; the situation is terribly serious.
“It is one of the worst anywhere. But why is this happening and what can we do?’’ Lanzer asked.
He expressed shock at the level of destruction of the area by the Boko Haram insurgents.
“I believe that there is a combination of violent extremism, climate change, abject poverty that is really driving people into the situation.
“As we saw in Bama, Konduga as we were travelling on the road, villages which had been torched, markets which had been destroyed, people’s lives have been wrecked.
“This is just because one group of violent extremists have taken it upon themselves to do things which are really terrific,’’ Lanzer said.
He said that the UN was concerned about the plight of the victims but constrained by lack of resources.
“The entire programme that the UN is handling for the year 2016 is about 200 million dollars for the entire year,’’ Lanzer said.
He said that his main task was to seek for assistance from donor countries toward addressing the humanitarian crisis in the area.
“One of my tasks is to reach out to the member states of the UN like Britain, the United States, Sweden and others which are economically rich and who can provide donations to UN to carry out its work.
“When I leave Maiduguri, I will be going to Abuja for just two days of meeting.
“I will move to New York, Washington, then Riyad, Doha and to other donor capitals to tell them about the situation on ground in North-East, Nigeria,’’ He said.
According to him, my constant visit to the North-East is a testimony of the UN concern about the situation on ground.
“I have been here thrice in eight months; I think it is a testimony of the concern that everybody in the United Nations has for the situation in Borno, and indeed, throughout North-East, Nigeria.
“I think it is very important that the international community stands with Nigerians and Nigerian Government whether Federal or State Governments here in Borno or Adamawa or Yobe, we stand with you.
“I do believe that there have been some positive improvements over the course of the last eight months; we can feel it but much more remain to be done.
“I have so much confidence in the UN team that we have on the ground here in Maiduguri.
“I have got so much confidence in our leadership in Abuja; we have got a powerful leader in Abuja.
“We have confidence in her to address not only the humanitarian consequences of the situation but also the developmental challenges,’’ Lanzer said.
He added that the UN would step up its programmes in Borno to create more impact.
“You will see a more robust presence of the UN, including the World Food Programme, not only to deliver more food to people but we are looking at things such as cash-based program.
“That means empowering people not with a bag of rice or bag of salt but helping a family with a very small cash injection that will enable them to choose what they need to buy in the market.
“What will help them most get through the month under way,’’ Lanzer said.
He explained that the cash-based programme would be executed through text messages.
He said that the UNDP would also step up efforts in the area in terms of guarding the environment.
“We are also here with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP); I am excited about the plans they have.
“Simple measures such as solid waste management, people say why that is important but it is terribly important.
“The rainy season is around the corner; we need to manage solid waste as much as possible so that we do not have public health problem.
“I know that the state authorities are working hard on this and the UNDP stands to assist them,’’ Lanzer said.
He commended Gov. Kashim Shettima for his efforts in handling the crisis in the state.
“Certainly, we in the UN will be doing everything we can to lend hand to the governor,’’ he stated. (NAN)