A UN official based in Nigeria has called on the international community to help Nigeria avert a major humanitarian crisis in the restive northeastern part of the country, as the number of people in need of lifesaving aid has risen steeply.
In a statement made available to Xinhua in Lagos on Saturday, Edward Kallon, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, said vulnerable people in northeast Nigeria need urgent support as their living conditions have significantly deteriorated since the beginning of the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kallon called on donors to continue their supports to humanitarian communities in Nigeria who are facing imminent fund shortage.
“Whilst needs are rapidly increasing, funding is however at a historic low. With only five months left until the end of the year, aid organizations have received less than a third of the required amount,” he said.
Kallon stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates the dire humanitarian situation in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states, and risks wreaking havoc on the most vulnerable population.
“The number of people needing humanitarian assistance is the highest ever recorded in five years of a joint humanitarian response,” said Kallon, adding the pandemic’s devastating effects will distress Nigeria’s most fragile region.
“Unless we take immediate action, we should prepare for a spike in conflict, hunger, and destitution in northeast Nigeria,” he said.
Over 10.6 million people in the region which has witnessed more than a decade Boko Haram insurgence, will need some form of humanitarian assistance in 2020, Kallen said, adding this is close to a 50 percent increase in people in need since last year, mainly from increasing violence and insecurity further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at an online high-level briefing on humanitarian affairs on Friday, Charles Usie, the country director of Christian Aid in Nigeria, said needs are increasing and humanitarian work in northeast Nigeria has become ever more challenging.
“With the upsurge in violent attacks by non-state armed groups, humanitarian workers and the aid they deliver are increasingly at risk,” Usie said.
According to local media, the past year has seen more than 10 aid workers killed in violence by non-state armed groups in northeast Nigeria, greatly affecting the ability for international and Nigerian organizations and the government to provide lifesaving assistance.