The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, launched today a multi-million dollar inter-agency appeal to provide support to nearly 500,000 people who have been affected by the Boko Haram insurgency, including those in Niger, Chad, and Cameroon, as well as Nigerian refugees.
“This is one of Africa’s largest displacement crises and the world cannot afford to brush it under the carpet,” said Mr. Grandi before a ceremony in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, where he announced the Nigeria Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRRP).
Earlier the week, Mr. Grandi visited refugees and internally displaced people in Niger, Chad, and Cameroon. He will visit those in Nigeria in the coming days.
“The suffering and desperate conditions in the Lake Chad region are among the harshest I have seen. Refugees, returnees and host communities who have survived violence and trauma by the Boko Haram insurgency urgently need help,” he said.
The United Nations and its partners are seeking $241 million over the next year to support some 460,000 people through the 2017 Nigeria RRRP. More than half of the funds ($154.29 million) will be allocated to refugees in Niger, with $67.25 million for operations in Cameroon and $19.61 million for those in Chad. The request for 2017 is a $43 million increase from this year’s plan.
While security in the host countries has improved, refugees remain insufficiently protected, lack durable shelter, food, and health care, are facing malnutrition, and need access to water, sanitation, and hygiene as well as education and a means of livelihood. Environmental damage is also an issue throughout the host countries.
Stepped up funding from the international community is essential, particularly because the situation remains unpredictable and there are no immediate prospects of a resolution or an opportunity for return.
Meanwhile, the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is urging the international community to invest in development programmes for refugees and the host communities. During his field visits, Mr. Grandi noted the innovative development taking place to benefit both groups of people, including gas distribution projects in Diffa, Niger, and boats for fishing communities in Baga Sola, Chad.
Throughout 2016, refugees faced continued conflict, displacement, and suffering in an area already facing extreme poverty, harsh climatic conditions, disrupted economic activity, and limited or destroyed infrastructure. The UNHCR is therefore urging humanitarian aid agencies to work with governments in order to reach more people in need and calling for urgent funding so that such work can continue.
Separately, aid groups in the region are seeking more than $1 billion from donors in order to support some 1.8 million people within Nigeria.
A full report of the plan is available online.