The UN Security Council (UNSC) has described the insurgency crisis in the North-East Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin region as the world’s largest and most neglected humanitarian crisis the world has ever witnessed.
Mr Mathew Rycroft, the President of the UNSC for March and Leader of the UN delegation to Nigeria, stated this at a news conference on Monday in Abuja.
Rycroft fielded questions from newsmen on the team’s visit to parts of the North East ravaged by Boko Haram insurgency.
He called for urgent response from the international community to help tackle the scourge that has affected more than 14 million people with about 8.5 million in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
Rycroft, who is also the UK Permanent Representative at the UNSC, warned of dire consequences if the world failed to tackle the crisis in the next 18 months.
“The reason we have come to the Lake Chad Basin is that the crisis of the Lake Chad Basin is one of the largest but also the most neglected and forgotten crisis.
“We want to shine a spotlight on that crisis so that the whole world, including the governments of the region, step up their response to the crisis before it is too late,” he said.
While giving a vivid account of their experiences in parts of Borno visited, Rycroft said the region was dotted with faces of sorrow, pain and hopelessness.
The envoy said that what was discovered in the region was a humanitarian crisis of unimaginable proportion.
He said the delegation was struck by the individual stories especially those of the IDP Camps in Maiduguri from the women whose husbands have been killed by Boko Haram.
Rycroft expressed concern on women who had lost children to Boko Haram and are now struggling to feed their families and give their remaining children education.
The UK envoy stressed the imperative need of defeating the poisoned ideology of Boko Haram and the need to replace the seed of fear sown with hope.
He assured Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin region of the readiness of the UN in assisting to help in that regard.
While commending the efforts of the governments of the region particularly in their coordinated efforts in decimating Boko Haram, the UNSC representative charged them to redouble their efforts until the job is done.
Rycroft expressed commitment of the Security Council to Nigeria in the fight against the scourge.
He said that the UNSC was of the view that both the military and humanitarian response could not provide a lasting solution to the crisis.
He therefore called on governments of the region to take the issues of development, jobs, environmental issues, education as well as human rights more seriously.
Senegal’s Permanent Representative to the UNSC, Mr Seck Fode, also advised Nigeria to take the lead in disbursing her own pledge to serve as an encouragement to other nations who made pledges at the Oslo conference.
“If you want somebody to help you, you should start by helping yourself, so Nigeria government made an interesting pledged in Oslo.
“We are just from the ministry of finance and planning, and she explained to us that this government will effectively disburse the money through normal budget process.
“Our appeal is for the international community also to disburse the amount they pledged in Oslo and before Oslo for these collective efforts to bear fruit,” he said.
The UN Representative and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, noted that the visit and the Oslo conference had succeeded in bringing to lime light the global humanitarian crisis facing the region.
Kallon said the global community should work towards putting out the fire of the crisis in the North East in the next 18 months.
He said the crisis pose a threat to the nation’s economic and long term development, but solveable and that UN would support the Federal and State governments on it.
“I want to say that we have very short window of opportunity and my calculation is 18 months; we have to put out the fire in the North East Nigeria in 18 months.
“If we don’t succeed in putting out the fire in 18 months the situation will become protracted and chronic with national elections around the corner,’’ said the envoy. (NAN)