Financial pledges at Oslo humanitarian conference should also target drivers of conflict, chronic underdevelopment
PORTLAND, ORE – Ahead of this week’s Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region taking place in Oslo, Norway, the global organization Mercy Corps urges governments to commit funding to meet humanitarian needs and tackle underlying causes of conflict. The United Nations appeal for the region in 2017 is $1.5 billion to fund assistance to more than 10 million people across the Lake Chad region, including more than 500,000 children expected to suffer from severe malnourishment this year.
“The Lake Chad Basin, with Nigeria at its epicenter, is currently experiencing one of the world’s largest overlooked humanitarian crises, resulting from chronic underdevelopment and grievances that have created a self-perpetuating cycle of insecurity, violence and poverty,” says Iveta Ouvry, Mercy Corps Country Director in Nigeria. “The only way we will break this vicious cycle is by responding quickly to urgent needs in order to save lives. At the same time, we must support longer-term programs that can reduce vulnerability and prevent conflict.”
Mercy Corps provides vital assistance such as food vouchers, cash, non-food items and water and hygiene support to tens of thousands of people across northeast Nigeria. In a recent assessment conducted in Dikwa and Ngala, two towns in northern Borno State hosting more than 120,000 displaced people, Mercy Corps found that food continues to be the main need, compounded by fuel shortages that limit many families to cooking only one meal a day. Mercy Corps will begin food distributions in Dikwa in the coming weeks.
The assessment, conducted over a two-day period in January, also found that latrines are in short supply, causing people to resort to open defecation with limited access to water and soap for handwashing. Bathing also takes place in the open and usually at night, creating huge safety concerns for women and children.
To tackle underlying drivers of the crisis, Mercy Corps is also working in Borno State to reduce youth vulnerability to radicalization, based on recommendations from its 2016 two-part report examining factors behind youth participation in Boko Haram.NR_OsloLakeChadConference_22Feb2017.pdf