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UN relief chief pledges support for Nigeria

The UN humanitarian affairs chief travelled to the country to see firsthand the humanitarian situation and response in the northeast, and to raise international awareness about the deteriorating humanitarian situation and bring attention to the ongoing regional conflict affecting the Lake Chad basin. 

The UN relief chief met the Vice-President and members of the Federal Government, the Chief of Defence Staff, as well as the Governor of Borno State in Nigeria’s northeast, where the extremist group Boko Haram launched its Islamist insurgency in 2009, that has spread to neighbouring countries, Cameroon, Niger and Chad.. 

In the northeast, he met with Nigerians who have been affected by the violence, as well as humanitarian partners, in Maiduguri, Bama and Damasak. 

The conflict in the Lake Chad basin has taken a heavy toll on communities across border areas of the affected countries, putting more than 10 million people at risk and in need of humanitarian assistance.

During his visit to Damasak, on the border with Niger, Mr. Griffiths heard from women and families displaced by the violence. 

Displaced women with their children in north-east Nigeria.

© UNOCHA/Christina Powell
Displaced women with their children in north-east Nigeria.

They told him of their hopes to return home, yet they despaired that they were unable to plan for a better future given continuing insecurity and attacks by armed groups. 

Mr. Griffiths said: “It’s heartbreaking to see the deep impact of the violence and repeated displacement for so many. Yet the people I met demonstrated amazing courage in the face of vicious violence, killings, kidnappings, repeated displacement and sometimes bare survival. 

“In Bama, women told stories of having escaped from years of armed group captivity only weeks ago. It is our duty to help them rebuild their lives.” 

He said the Governor of Borno State, had conveyed the commitment of authorities to improve security and build resilience for the most vulnerable. 

“We will redouble our collective efforts to improve protection of civilians and humanitarian access, and seek durable solutions out of crisis wherever possible”, added the UN humanitarian chief.   

“It is clear we share a common objective: upholding the dignity of Nigerians and finding ways to ease the suffering too many of them face today. People are yearning for security, livelihoods and better access to social services, and we stand ready to make this a reality with the Government and our humanitarian partners.” 

‘Great personal risk’ 

Mr. Griffiths heard firsthand from those working on the aid frontline: “Brave humanitarian workers, most of them Nigerians themselves, work tirelessly and often at great personal risk to help others. I deeply admire their commitment and, in turn, commit myself to advocating for their safety, and for the necessary support to the people they serve.” 

In 2021, the humanitarian community reached more than 5 million people in need in Nigeria. The 2022 Nigeria Humanitarian Response Plan, slated for launch in February, requires just over $US1 billion. It sets out the humanitarian community’s plan to assist 8.4 million people in need this year. 

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