High level conference on Lake Chad region to draw attention to 11 million in urgent need of aid
Next week ministers from countries in the Lake Chad region, alongside donors, UN agencies, international and national organisations and members of the civil society will meet for a high-level conference on the Lake Chad Region.
The Lake Chad basin has been affected by conflict for the last nine years, with 11 million people relying on humanitarian assistance to survive. Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria have all been affected and a total of 2.4 million have been displaced and 5 million have been left food insecure.
Local economies have been severely impacted by the conflict and thousands of people have lost their livelihoods. There have been a high number of civilian casualties and the security issues have hampered the efforts of humanitarian relief workers.
For example, in northeast Nigeria over 800,000 people still live in hard to reach areas with limited or no access to humanitarian assistance.
Jan Egeland, Secretary General for the Norwegian Refugee Council, commented on the success of last year’s high-level conference and the hopes for this year’s:
“Last year’s conference helped avert a famine in the region. This year’s conference must not only continue this lifesaving operation, but must make protection of vulnerable children, women and men a top priority. Conflict-affected families depend on the international community to put the lives of civilians over and beyond competing political agendas, such as their war on terror”
In 2017 there was a significant scaling up of the response in Lake Chad; however, the humanitarian needs remain high. So far this year only 26% of funding to assist those in Cameroon has been raised and the Nigerian crisis has received less than 50% of the funding required.
The UN has estimated that a total of $1.6 billion is needed to help 10.7 million people across the region.
Hannah Gibbin, Country Director for the International Rescue Committee in Cameroon added:
“As the protection crisis in the Lake Chad region rages on for another year, children make up over half of those displaced. Women and girls face gender-based violence daily, are abducted, sexually exploited and abused, and struggling to survive early and forced marriage and intimate partner violence”
It is hoped that the conference will highlight that the crisis requires political will to address the causes of the conflict, in addition to financial aid.
The AIDF Africa Summit will return to Nairobi in February 2019.
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Image credit: FAO