The international donor conference on Boko Haram holding in Berlin on Monday pledged $2.52 billion to help countries in the Lake Chad Basin to fight Boko Haram.
The German foreign ministry said the aid would be disbursed “in the coming years” to Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon, where the jihadist group launches frequent suicide bomb attacks from its bases in Lake Chad.
The conference, holding on Monday and Tuesday and being attended by more than 70 states, international organisations and non-governmental organisations, raised $672 million in 2017.
Mark Lowcock, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator and Head, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, thanked donors for their generous donations.
Lowcock said: “Your contribution at the Lake Chad Berlin conference will help us deliver life-saving humanitarian assistance throughout the Lake Chad Basin. This support is crucial to ensuring that life-saving assistance reaches all those in need”.
The conference, which focused on humanitarian assistance, civilian protection, crisis prevention and stabilisation for the region, had sought to raise $1.56 billion while Lowcock had projected more than one billion dollars.
However, the donations and pledges by countries monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) were as follows: Germany, the host country – 265 million Euros; and Norway – $125 million.
The others were U.S. – $420 million; Switzerland – $20 million; France – 131 million Euros; Belgium – 45 million Euros; Finland – 2.3 million Euros; and Denmark – $72.5 million.
UK also donated £146 million; Canada – CAD $68 million; the European Union – 231.5 million Euros; Luxembourg – 40 million Euros; and Spain – 3.2 million Euro.
Lowcock said that a famine was averted in the region last year due largely to international aid, but added that millions of people in Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon were still in dire need of help.
The UN humanitarian chief, however, cautioned: “The crisis is not over. There are still 10 million people who need life-saving assistance.
“A quarter of the people we are trying to reach are displaced from their homes and the only means of staying alive they have is what is provided by humanitarian organisations.”
Achim Steiner, head of the UN Development Programme, warned that more people could flee the region unless the international community took action to help them for the long-term.
Ahead of the 2018 conference, about 10 non-governmental organisations active in the Lake Chad region had said 11 million people were in urgent need of humanitarian aid.
“The insurgency as well as military operations across the four countries have displaced 2.4 million people and left five million people food insecure while significantly reducing economic activity,” a statement signed by the NGOs said.
The conference will focus on humanitarian assistance, civilian protection, crisis prevention and stabilisation of the region, as well as seek to raise funds for humanitarian requirements totalling $1.56 billion.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the UN, Prof. Tijjani Bande, shortly before the conference, had appealed to all stakeholders to redouble their commitments to the Lake Chad Basin crisis.
Bande said: “The Berlin Conference on the Lake Chad has been slated for the first week of September 2018 and would build substantially on the outcome of the February 2017 Oslo Donors Conference on the Lake Chad.
“I would like to take this opportunity to call on all stakeholders to redouble efforts and commitment towards making the coming Berlin Conference on the Lake Chad of Sept. 3 to 4, 2018, a watershed.
“This is in our collective resolve to further mobilise resources and demonstrate implicit commitment to plans that will ensure moving quickly beyond the immediate humanitarian needs.
“This is to concrete sustainable developmental projects capable of substantially elevating the lives of the majority of people in the region”.