(Niamey, 17 May 2016): United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, completed today a two-day mission to Niger. He called for greater world attention on the massive humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Diffa region, where violence at the hands of Boko Haram has forced over 240,000 people out of their homes on both sides of the border with Nigeria.
In the Diffa region, USG O’Brien visited the Assaga site, hosting over 15,000 people including refugees, returnees and internally displaced people who had been recently forced out of their homes due to Boko Haram attacks. He called for armed groups to respect their obligations to protect civilians under International Humanitarian Law. “I am appalled by reports of killing of civilians, looting of villages, and other abuses perpetrated by Boko Haram in the countries around the Lake Chad Basin, including Niger,” he said. “Adherence to international humanitarian law and norms is fundamental in conflict and it applies to all parties, without exception.” In the Diffa region, two out of three people have experienced displacement.
“This morning I met a family in Diffa hosting 30 people who had fled violence caused by Boko Haram both in Nigeria and in Niger. As the first to respond, the solidarity and generosity of families in Diffa who have shared their scarce resources with those in need are an example and inspiration to us all,” noted the Emergency Relief Coordinator.
USG O’Brien met with the President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, Prime Minister Brigi Rafini, Minister of the Interior, Mohamed Bazoum, Niger’s first Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Laouan Magagi, and several other senior Government officials. They discussed ways to step up the humanitarian response for people affected by Boko Haram as well as the chronic challenges faced year after year by Nigeriens despite the Government’s clear strategic commitment to build people’s resilience to recurrent food insecurity and malnutrition crises. This deserves our support.
In 2016, humanitarian partners (donors, non-governmental organisations, and others humanitarian and development actors) and the Nigerien Government planned to assist two million food insecure people and 1.5 million people threatened by malnutrition: 1.2 million of them are children. “Displacement or malnutrition alone causes great human suffering. A combination of the two is too much for people to bear. Together, we must help them now with urgent supplies and services,” stressed USG O’Brien.
The humanitarian community has launched a Humanitarian Response Plan for 2016 targeting 1.5 million people with a budget requirement of US$316 million. So far only 25 per cent has been received, which is clearly insufficient to meet the immediate needs.
USG O’Brien will go from the Lake Chad Basin region to Istanbul to participate in the first ever World Humanitarian Summit being held 23-24 May. “The Summit will be a critical opportunity for me to tell the stories of the people I met, who have been affected by the Boko Haram violence,” explained USG O’Brien. “An event on the Lake Chad Basin region will help us draw global attention to the increasing vulnerability of the communities of the region, who are facing the converging events of climate change, high poverty levels, violent extremism and population growth.”
Mr. O’Brien noted that a comprehensive approach is urgently needed, to ensure greater collaboration between the political, security, development, environmental, and humanitarian efforts to maximize scarce resources and to ensure no one is left behind. “A big compounded crisis needs a big compounded response,” he added.
For further information, please call:
Herve Verhoosel, World Humanitarian Summit Secretariat, firstname.lastname@example.org +1 917 345 5238
Katy Thiam in Niger, email@example.com , +227 99 71 71 39
OCHA press releases are available at http://ochaonline.un.org or www.reliefweb.int.
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