Norway rallies support for Northeast Nigeria, Lake Chad

Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Børge Brende

The Government of Norway has challenged the international community to give its full support to addressing the humanitarian woes caused by boko haram terrorists in Northeast Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin.

Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Børge Brende, in his opening statement at the civil society meeting at the donor conference for Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region in Oslo called on donors to make definite commitments.

“Northeastern Nigeria and the Lake Chad region need our backing – today and in the years to come,” he said, adding “I hope others will make similar commitments”.

Norway has announced a pledge of 192 million dollars multiyear pledge that includes both humanitarian and development aid for the region.

“Many organisations work hard to address the crisis. They deserve increased support from the international community. UN agencies have strengthened their presence, and are scaling up further.

“The Red Cross-Red Crescent movement and a number of international and civil society organizations, many present here today, are doing a great job under often very difficult circumstances.

“We must not forget that every day humanitarian workers are risking their lives to save others, despite the fact that all parties to conflict have a responsibility to protect them and provide humanitarian access to civilians in need of assistance.”

Food Emergency

Brende reminded the international community that the displacement crisis in northeastern Nigeria and the Lake Chad region has become a severe food and nutrition emergency.

“More than 10 million people are in need of assistance. More than half a million children are facing severe to acute malnutrition.

“This conference is organised to mobilise international attention and assistance, to close the gap between immediate needs and available resources.

“It is a humanitarian imperative to act, to act now, and scale up the response. The affected population must get the help they need to survive,” he said.

The Norwegian foreign minister also said that apart from pledges, the conference aimed to look at the root causes of the dire situation and provide lasting solutions.

“Alongside a strong humanitarian response based on humanitarian principles, we must provide durable solutions for the 26 million affected people, including the 2.3 million who are internally displaced.

“Women and girls as well as vulnerable groups, such as person with disabilities, should be given particular priority,” he said.

According to him, conflict, climate change and extreme poverty call for a longer-term commitment in the region.

“As boko haram is driven back, governments have to invest in the resilience of local communities – in farming and trade, in education and health care, in safety for the population.

“Only such investments will pave the way for a peaceful development in the region,” the Norwegian envoy said.

Brende pointed out that food security and nutrition; protection and access; and education in emergencies, which are issues on the conference’s agenda, are crucial both in the short and longer term.

The Norway’s foreign minister also highlighted the importance of a strengthened health response, which was also an issue discussed on the conference’s agenda.