By Lizzy Okoji
G7 Countries have made commitments of $382 million US dollars to immediately avert the looming famine in Nigeria’s North East and to tackle its root causes, according to Catriona Laing, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria.
Laing disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja as she welcomed partners from the Nigerian government and diplomatic mission to the launch of the G7 Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Compact.
This was also as representatives of the G7 countries in Nigeria stressed the need for effective and collaborative approach to respond to Nigeria’s humanitarian crises and avert the looming famine.
Speaking at the launch, Laing noted the concern about the humanitarian situation in Nigeria’s North-East and the G7 countries’ commitment to act immediately to avert further crises with $382 million US dollars.
“We are deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in the North East where 8.7 million people need assistance, and 1.9 million people have been displaced because of the conflict, with another 300,000 having fled to neighboring countries.
“As a result of the conflict, we continue to see alarming rates of malnutrition and elevated risks of famine across parts of the North East.
“Through the G7, our countries have committed to act now to avert further crisis. This landmark commitment agreed in May by the G7 is critical to the needs and tackling the root cause of famine.
“This is not only about money, it is also about diplomatic actions, smarter financing and more effective approaches to crises.
“The G7 has agreed to urgently provide an initial $7 billion US dollars in humanitarian assistance. This includes $382 million US dollars desperately needed in Nigeria’s North East.
“In 2016, 2017, international engagements responded to food insecurity alerts and averted a famine in the North East. With conditions returning to similar levels today, we must act early with no regrets to save lives and tackle the drivers of acute food insecurity.
“We will continue to support governments to address crises and tackle conflicts. This includes working in close partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria and the state Governors of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
“As well as humanitarian and development partners to respond to urgent needs and find solutions to the crises in the North East,” Laing said.
Hajia Sadiya Farouq, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, appreciated the G7 countries for their support and assistance to Nigeria in addressing its humanitarian crises.
Farouq who was represented by Mr Umar Bindir, National Coordinator, National Social Investment Programme in the ministry, said that the ministry had been working up to its mandate in coordinating responses in the North East.
“To see that you are going to spend nearly $400 million US dollars in the North East, most importantly to build capacities and technical support and strengthen the people and the government, for the purpose of forging and delivering humanitarian assistance and for the 1 million people that cannot be reached is highly appreciated.
“On behalf of the government, we will partner with you as an arm of government.
“We are already working closely with all the governors in the North East and all the governors in Nigeria,” Farouq said.
Ms Kathleen FitzGibbon, U.S Deputy Chief of Mission to Nigeria, also stressed the need for a comprehensive and collaborative approach, especially with the military to avoid the worst of the situation.
“I will like to echo what the British High Commissioner said that money alone won’t solve the problem.
“What is very important and we, as key donors, are working closely with the governors in the North East and other parts of the country, is to make sure that on the ground, in those areas, we have really good collaboration.
“And communication with the military authorities, the state government authorities and the non-governmental organisations that are working there.
“Everybody has to be on the same page and take a victim-centered approach in taking care of the people who are at risk of famine and we cannot under estimate what the situation is going to be,” FlitzGibbon said. (NAN)