Saturday, 21 March 2015
Boko Haram: UN Officials Forecast Regional Humanitarian Crisis
Top United Nations officials yesterday said that the immense suffering in Nigeria as a result of persistent attacks from the Boko Haram sect could lead to a serious regional humanitarian crisis.
Speaking with resident correspondents at the UN headquarters in New York, Mr John Ging, operations director, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and Ms Afshan Khan, director of Emergency Programmes for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said that the effects of the crisis in north-eastern Nigeria were increasingly reverberating across the region.
Both officials, who reported on the growing tragedy facing civilians following their recent visit to the city of Yola, near the Nigerian-Cameroonian border also urged international donors to ramp up financial support for relief efforts.
According to Mr John Ging the people of northeast Nigeria have suffered immensely. He also confirmed that more than 1 million people had already been displaced by the fighting and an estimated 6,300 civilians have been killed while countless others had suffered atrocities and violations of human rights law.
He added that 90 per cent of those displaced had been integrated into host communities, further burdening their services. “In Yola alone, the city has doubled in population from 300,000 to 600,000 due to the influx of IDPs,” he noted.
His words, “The crisis was also having a dire impact on food security in the immediate region and across the Sahel. With the rainy season just two months away, and host communities’ resources rapidly diminishing, we must urgently mobilise assistance to help people in need, in support of the local communities and organisations who have done so much already.”
On her part, Ms. Afshan Khan voiced concern that the conflict in northeastern Nigeria had been one of the deadliest in terms of its impact on children, with girls raped and forced into early marriages and thousands of boys forcibly recruited to fight.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Defence, Lt. General Aliyu Muhammed, has said the federal government may deploy personnel of the Nigerian Navy to join in the fight against members of the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’Awati Wal-Jihad, popularly known as Boko Haram on the northeast geo-political zone of the country.
Muhammed disclosed this yesterday while speaking at the passing out parade (POP) and commissioning ceremony of Direct Short Service Commission (DSS) Course 22 Cadets, at Nigerian Naval College, Onne, Rivers State.
The minister, who was represented by the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh, urged the cadets to exhibit professionalism when deployed to some security-challenged parts of the country.
He said, “Let me also warn you that, as a result of a few ongoing internal security challenges in some parts of the country, some of you may find yourselves being deployed for such duties or operations in no distant future.
“In this regard, I enjoin you to keep afresh in memory the internal security training you have been given, as a lot of it would come in handy when you are deployed for internal security duties or operations.”
While enjoining the Nigerian Navy to keep to its training in the sustenance of internal security, Muhammed charged the cadets to focus on the Nigerian Navy’s role of supporting the federal government in maintaining political stability, adding that they should not be agents of destabilisation.
He said, “In addition, I implore you to focus on the role of Nigerian Navy’s role of supporting the government in maintaining political stability and not allow yourselves to be used as an instrument for destabilising our great nation.
“Above all, you must not allow yourselves to be used mischievously by anybody for any unscrupulous or political gains. Remember, severe disciplinary actions await the erring ones. As the saying goes, ‘to be fore warned is to be fore armed.
“Exhibit unflinching loyalty to the service, and to the president, Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.