Abuja – The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Stephen O’Brien, says 318 million dollars (N90 billion) is required to scale up the humanitarian response in northeast Nigeria.
O’Brien made the statement in Abuja on Thursday at a news briefing on his assessment of the humanitarian situation caused by Boko Haram insurgency in the area.
The UN official arrived in Nigeria on Wednesday and undertook an assessment of the humanitarian situation in Maiduguri, Diffa and Konduga in Borno.
He said that his assessment was that almost 90 per cent of the people were in urgent need of various forms of humanitarian assistance in the zone.
O’Brien, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, said there was a significant increase from the estimated seven million people in need in the 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan.
He said that 248 million dollars (N70 billion) was initially requested to scale up humanitarian response for 2016.
According to him, additional 70 billion dollars is needed in view of the recent gains recorded by the military, which has made previously un-assessed areas to be accessible.
“As the Humanitarian Response Plan is currently only 15 per cent funded, this increase in the number of people in need poses a significant challenge for the humanitarian response.
“The current scale up in food assistance alone requires an extra 70 million dollars.
“A scale up of this magnitude is impossible without more resources and more personnel, especially experienced humanitarians,” he said.
O’Brien also said that the current 241 million dollars requested had only been 15 per cent funded as at May 5, 2016.
He expressed concern over the humanitarian crisis caused by the Boko Haram insurgency, saying that the condition of the people was dire.
“The conflict in the northeast has caused markets to close, cut off trade routes, destroyed livelihoods and displaced millions of people.
“Moreover, the price of staple foodstuffs in Borno has increased by 100 per cent and trading has been badly affected by insecurity and military restrictions.
“As a result, the people in the areas covered by the assessment are now facing emergency food security situation,” he said.
He appealed to international donors to come to the aid of those in dire humanitarian crisis in Nigeria’s northeast.
He, however, expressed the hope that the forthcoming World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul would provide opportunities to appeal to the conscience of the world not to leave those in humanitarian crisis behind.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that O’Brien’s visit precedes the first World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on Monday.
The Summit, among other things, seeks to generate renewed focus on essential humanitarian commitments highly relevant to the people of the region affected by the Boko Haram insurgency. (NAN)