OSLO, FEBRUARY 25 – More than 670 million in pledges were raised in Oslo over the wee-end as a major international conference gave voice voice to people affected by conflict and crises in Africa’s Lake Chad Basin. The money will help sustain critical relief operations over the next two years and beyond across four counties where millions are in need of aid.
The Italian Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Mario Giro announced a 30 million contribution over three years. Formally known as the Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region, the donors forum also agreed on the need to address longer-term development requirements and to seek durable solutions for the crisis-hit countries in the vast Basin-region: Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
“Without our increased support, affected communities will face a life of hunger, disease, gender-based violence and continued displacement,” said the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Stephen O’Brien.
“But there is another future within grasp: as the international community scales up support, we can stop a further descent into an ever-deepening crisis with unimaginable consequences for millions of people,” he added.
According to UN estimates, about 17 million people are living in the most affected areas across the four countries. Of them, some 10.7 million people are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance, with 8.5 million in north-eastern Nigeria alone, having been made witness to years of violence as a result of Boko Haram’s insurgency.
The resources pledged at the conference will help scale up responses to reach the most vulnerable people with a special attention focused on the protection needs of women, children and youth, as well as the need for longer-term support and durable solutions for the displaced populations.
At the conference, 14 donors pledged $458 million for relief in 2017 and an additional $214 million was announced for 2018 and beyond. Expressing appreciation for the contributions, Mr. O’Brien said: “The UN and our partners are ready and mobilised to further scale up our life-saving response – the people in the region have no time to wait.”
The Spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the UN chief welcomed the donor pledges made today, and stressed the need for sustained support to humanitarian, human rights, development and security needs in the region.
The Conference saw the participation of some 170 representatives from 40 countries, UN, regional organizations and civil society organizations. It was co-hosted by Norway, Nigeria, Germany and the UN and followed a civil society meeting with large participation from local organizations working in Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi attended the forum. With return movements of internally displaced people – some 950,000 since August 2015 – and refugee returnees from neighbouring countries under way in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states in north-eastern Nigeria, his office co-presented with the Government of Nigeria, a paper outlining a vision in Oslo for ensuring protection, access and lasting solutions for them. “The two strategies of protection and solutions should go hand in hand. To do this we need access […] this is the very big challenge,” Grandi said.
The paper also noted that many protection issues in areas of displacement and potential return can contribute to violence and instability, and advocated for prioritizing measures to ensure physical security, freedom of movement and humanitarian access. (@OnuItalia)