The United Nations has said US$1.3 billion is needed this year to provide critical lifesaving assistance to 6 million people suffering from the devastating impact of the 13-year armed conflict in the Northeast.
It disclosed that this is an increase of 500,000 people from the 5.5 million people identified for assistance in 2022.
A statement on Thursday by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said “the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan for north-east Nigeria launched today requests US$1.3 billion to provide critical lifesaving assistance to 6 million people suffering from the devastating impact of the continuing 13 years long non-international armed conflict. This is an increase of 500,000 people from the 5.5 million people identified for assistance in 2022.”
The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Mr. Matthias Schmale, was quoted in the statement to have said: “The large-scale humanitarian and protection crisis shows no sign of abating,” revealing that: “An estimated 2.4 million people are in acute need – impacted by conflict, disaster and disease – and require urgent support.”
He lamented that some humanitarian needs of affected people are deepening and increasing, particularly those related to food insecurity and malnutrition, adding that approximately 4.4 million people are expected to face food insecurity in the 2023 lean season, up from 4.1 million in 2022, while insisting that without urgent action, 4,000 people in Bama, Borno State, are expected to be in ‘catastrophe’ (Phase 5) conditions, in which starvation, death, destitution and extremely critical acute malnutrition levels become prevalent.
According to the statement, the ticking time bomb of child malnutrition is escalating in Nigeria’s northeast, with the number of children suffering from acute malnutrition projected to increase to 2 million in 2023, up from 1.74 million last year. The already high levels of severe acute malnutrition are projected to more than double, from 300,000 children affected last year to a projected 697,000 this year.
Schmale said: “Women and girls are the hardest hit,” stressing that: “Over 80 percent of people in need of humanitarian assistance across Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states are women and children. They face increased risks of violence, abduction, rape and abuse.”
He noted that during the conflict, children, girls, women and people with disabilities are the most affected groups of people. They require additional attention through enhanced access to protection and quality of basic health, nutrition, water, sanitation, hygiene and learning services.
The statement said two million people are displaced due to conflict and face daily threats to their health and safety. Sudden and unpredictable attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure by non-state armed groups are continuing, and the recent closure of camps for internally displaced people are leading to new vulnerabilities. There are nearly two million returnees who lack essential services and livelihoods, and 4.8 million people in host communities or communities affected by the conflict.
Over a million people are estimated to be in extremely hard-to-reach areas where they are unable to get to basic services or receive assistance and humanitarian actors are unable to reach them.
The statement added that through the Humanitarian Response Plan, 120 operational partners will work in support of Government efforts to save lives, improve the quality of life, protect the most vulnerable and enable affected people to return to normalcy and live safely and with dignity. The plan, which is part of a two-year strategy for 2022-2023, prioritizes lifesaving needs while also working to reduce vulnerabilities through efforts to build resilience and enhance self-reliance.
In 2023, humanitarian partners will continue to monitor and respond to the significant humanitarian needs in other parts of Nigeria and strengthen complementarity in resource mobilisation, and linkages with ongoing prevention and development efforts, as demonstrated in 2022 in the response to the country’s worst floods in 10 years as well as the severe malnutrition crisis in the north-west.
Despite facing severe access and funding constraints, the humanitarian community reached 4.7 million people with assistance in 2022 through the generous support of donors. With the Humanitarian Response Plan, they have outlined a vision to assist 6 million people. Of the $1.3 billion required, $631 million will be urgently needed for an emergency response to the 2.4 million people in acute need.