Lake Chad crisis risks new, protracted conflict in Africa, warns humanitarian charity

Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) - Dependent on aid, neglected and affected by climate change and conflict, millions of people are fighting a daily battle to survive in northeastern Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon - the four countries that surround Lake Chad.

In Nigeria and its neighbouring countries, the conflict between Boko Haram and Nigerian security forces has forced millions to flee their homes and caused massive civilian suffering.

Humanitarian charity, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), in a statement has says the conflict is brutal, and the civilian population are in need of both food and protection.

Close to 11 million people depend on aid, while 2.4 million people have been forced to flee their homes, it said.

In addition, there have been mass kidnappings of children, sexual violence, forced recruitment of children and other violations of human rights.

The violence and fighting have also destroyed food crops, economies and infrastructure. This has caused food insecurity for five million people, who do not have enough to eat. Emergency relief is vital to saving lives and avoiding famine in the region.

It said the efforts to assist people in need in the region has been under-financed for years, and in 2016, the Lake Chad region, together with other countries in the Sahel, topped NRC’s list of neglected displacement crises.

NRC said in the years after, aid organisations have been able to expand their efforts, but the need for aid is still enormous. The UN estimates that US$1.6 billion is required this year to help the 10.7 million people who need humanitarian assistance in the region.

Yet, so far this year, only 26 per cent of the appeal for funding to Cameroon has been raised and the humanitarian appeal to support people affected by the crisis in Nigeria is less than half funded.

At the same time, the security situation makes it difficult to access anyone who needs help. In north-eastern Nigeria alone, 800,000 people are cut off from outside assistance.

NRC said since the 1960s, 90 per cent of Lake Chad has disappeared. This is caused by lack of rain, but also the development of modern irrigation systems for industrial agriculture.

It said on top of the conflict with Boko Haram, the areas surrounding Lake Chad face a number of other challenges, such as extreme poverty, climate change, chronic food shortages, the emergence of several terrorist groups and organised crime.

NRC said the risk of a new, protracted and deadlocked conflict in Africa is great unless the root causes of the problems in the countries around Lake Chad are faced. However, lives must first be saved and the population protected from abuse.
-0- PANA MA 4Sept2018

04 september 2018 07:29:28

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