By Innocent Onoja with News agency…
The international donor conference on Boko Haram holding in Berlin on Monday pledged 2.52 billion dollars to help countries in the Lake Chad Basin to fight Boko Haram.
Germany’s Foreign Ministry said the aid would be disbursed “in the coming years” to Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon, where the jihadist group launched frequent suicide bomb attacks from its bases in Lake Chad.
The two-day conference, which is being attended by more than 70 states, international organisations and non-governmental organisations, raised 672 million dollars in 2017.
Mr Mark Lowcock, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator and Head, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, thanked donors for the generous donations.
Lowcock said: “Your contribution at the Lake Chad Berlin conference will help us deliver life-saving humanitarian assistance throughout the Lake Chad Basin.
“This support is crucial to ensuring that life-saving assistance reaches all those in need.”
The conference focused on humanitarian assistance, civilian protection, crisis prevention and stabilisation for the region and sought to raise 1.56 billion dollars while Lowcock had projected more than one billion dollars.
Donations and pledges by countries as monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) were Germany, the host country, 265 million Euros and Norway, 125 million dollars.
The others were United States, 420 million dollars; Switzerland, 20 million dollars; France, 131 million Euros; Belgium, 45 million Euros; Finland, 2.3 million Euros; and Denmark, 72.5 million.
United Kingdom donated 146 million pounds; Canada, CAD, 68 million dollars; European Union, 231.5 million Euros; Luxembourg – 40 million Euros and Spain, 3.2 million Euros.
Lowcock said a famine was averted in the region last year largely due to international aid, but that millions of people in Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon were still in dire need of help.
The UN humanitarian chief, however, cautioned that “the crisis is not over. There are still 10 million people who need life-saving assistance.
“A quarter of the people we are trying to reach are displaced from their homes and the only means of staying alive they have is what is provided by humanitarian organisations.”
Head of UN Development Programme, Achim Steiner, warned that more people could flee the region unless the international community took action to help them for the long-term.
Ahead of the 2018 conference, about 10 non-governmental organisations active in the Lake Chad region said 11 million people were in urgent need of humanitarian aid.
“The insurgency as well as military operations across the four countries has displaced 2.4 million people and left five million people facing food insecurity while significantly reducing economic activity,” a statement signed by the NGOs said.
The conference will focus on humanitarian assistance, civilian protection, crisis prevention and stabilisation for the region as well as seek to raise funds for the humanitarian requirements totaling 1.56 billion dollars.
The Nigeria’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN, Prof. Tijjani Bande, had shortly before the conference, appealed to all stakeholders to redouble their commitments to the Lake Chad Basin crisis.
Bande said: “The Berlin Conference on the Lake Chad has been slated for the first week of September 2018 and would build substantially on the outcome of the February, 2017 Oslo Donors Conference on the Lake Chad.