‘People May Eat Grass’ — UN Says $351m Humanitarian Aid Needed In Northern Nigeria

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Matthias Schmale, United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Nigeria, says up to $351 million is needed to provide humanitarian support for people in north-eastern Nigeria.

Schmale said this on Friday at an advocacy event held in Abuja on food security and nutrition in north-east Nigeria.

He said 8.4 million Nigerians need humanitarian support, adding that the gap between people in need and people supported with food keeps widening due to reduced funding.

Schmale

“Across north-east Nigeria today, 8.4 million people need humanitarian assistance. Alarmingly, almost half of these crisis-affected people — 4.1 million — are expected to face the severe pain of food insecurity in the approaching lean season,” he said.

“In 2021, the gap between people in need and people supported by food and nutrition assistance was 1.8 million. Due to reduced funding, that number is projected to dramatically increase to 2.9 million this lean season.

“Unless resources are urgently mobilised, almost three million people in dire need of food and nutrition support will go unassisted.”

He said an operational plan has been developed to enable the UN and its partners to deliver life-saving aid to affected people, adding that “this multi-sector plan has a financial requirement of $351 million and is part of the overall request of $1.1 billion for the 2022 humanitarian response plan”.

“Without food assistance, desperation may compel extremely vulnerable people into transactional sex, child labour, and selling their few possessions,” he said.

“I have heard stories from last year’s lean season of people in the north-east eating grass to stay alive, and I fear the recurrence of this tragedy if we fail to act quickly.”

Nadia Soso, head of special duties, federal ministry of humanitarian affairs, said the $351 million will ensure the sustained delivery of life-saving assistance, as well as “enable vital support through activities like cash, voucher assistance, mobile clinics in hard to reach locations and provision of agricultural inputs”.

Catriona Laing, UK high commissioner to Nigeria, spoke on the her country’s commitment to providing humanitarian support to Nigeria.

According to her, the Russia-Ukraine war has put pressure on global humanitarian budgets, but the UK government has said its support to Ukraine will not be “at the expense of others”.

 

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