The new United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock says some 1.7 million people require humanitarian assistance in the Lake Chad Basin, including 8.5 million in Nigeria’s northeast, where 5.2 million people currently need food assistance in the three most affected states and 450,000 children are severely malnourished.
The new humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock stated this at a media briefing in Maiduguri,the Borno state capital as he resumes first mission in the new role – to Niger and Nigeria.
“My main role as Emergency Relief Coordinator for the United Nations is to advocate on behalf of people in need.”
‘I have come to Niger and Nigeria to see the impact of the massive Lake Chad Basin crisis and the response with my own eyes and, most importantly, to listen to people affected. I will bring their stories to world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly next week.”he said
According to Lowcock “Civilians continue to bear the brunt of a conflict that has led to widespread forced displacement and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.
Since the beginning of the conflict more than 20,000 people have been killed, and thousands of women and children abducted.”
This year, over 80 children have been used as “human bombs.” Attacks on IDP camps by suicide bombers raise serious physical security threats for IDPs living in those camps.
Despite the immense challenges, the government-led response is reaching millions of people with life-saving aid.
This includes 2 million people who receive food aid every month and hundreds of thousands of children who benefit from nutritional support. We have also provided critically needed psychosocial support to 160,000 children and supported hundreds of children and women who were associated with armed groups to be reintegrated.
I have just returned from Gwoza and Pulka, where I was struck in both Gwoza and Pulka by the scale of humanitarian need – thousands of people who have been forced to flee the safety of their homes and take refuge in camps or with host communities.
Despite the challenges, the stresses and the uncertainties, people were receiving support in terms of food, shelter and medical supplies, but more importantly people were receiving support from each other. I was also encouraged by the hope that people expressed to return home, despite ongoing insecurity in many areas.
The United Nations and our partners are 100 per cent committed to supporting the people of northeast Nigeria. We are committed to reacting swiftly to new crises, such as the recent cholera outbreak.
We are absolutely committed to supporting the Government of Nigeria in all that it is doing to tackle the significant humanitarian challenges and we commend the government for progress made, for example with the ongoing food distribution.
But most of all we – the entire humanitarian community – are bound to advocate for the protection of all civilians.
The people of the northeast of Nigeria have endured too many years of suffering, and have the right to live in safety and dignity. Civilians should not be forced to flee their villages and their homes. Civilians should not bear the brunt of the conflict. And civilians should never be a target.