United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. William Stuart Symington, Thursday, announced an additional donation of $102m in humanitarian assistance to help address shelter, health and food security needs of Nigerians still struggling with the effects of the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast region of the country.
Symington announced the donation at the National Conversation on the Humanitarian Development Peace Nexus tagged ‘Beyond the Immediate NE Humanitarian Crises” in Abuja.
The donation represents the vast majority of the U.S. government’s new $112 million infusions for the Lake Chad region.
He said the assistance would be administered primarily through the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) offices of Food for Peace (FFP) and Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), as well as the U.S. State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration.
“Our hope is that this new investment in humanitarian assistance will combine with the efforts of your government and people to move Nigeria forward on a path to peace and prosperity,” Ambassador Symington told assembled journalists following a series of goodwill messages from diplomats, heads of humanitarian agencies, and Nigeria’s public and private sectors.
According to Amb. Symington, the fund will help provide life-saving aid to hundreds of thousands of people, including emergency food assistance, nutrition treatment, shelter, health services, safe drinking water, services for survivors of sexual violence, and support to children who have been separated from their families.
He noted that as of May 2018, an estimated 2.3 million people in the northeast experienced extreme food insecurity, largely due to widespread insecurity, protracted displacement, depleted assets, and the interruption of agricultural production throughout the region.
The US envoy also hinted that “overall, an estimated 7.7 million people in the northeast require urgent humanitarian assistance” adding that “even as the Nigerian military makes progress, access to those most in need remains tenuous in many areas and the operating environment is highly volatile”.
The United States is the largest donor for the humanitarian response in the Lake Chad Basin Region, providing nearly $761 million since 2017.
Symington expressed the hope that the goal of present efforts cannot be to get Nigeria back to where it was before, but to ensure that leaders help to move each person’s life from despair to hope, to opportunities, stressing that “we are investors in your future; this is our profound hope for you and we are investors in your future.
“This is a significant contribution from every man, woman, and child of the United States, from all of its Taxpayers, and we are making this investment because of the importance of Nigeria, it is by far the largest share we are putting into this region.”
He maintained, “The people of the United States understand how important this region and this country Nigeria is to the future of the world and there are times like this when an investment of money from outside can make a huge difference from inside. So, I am truly delighted today as we think about this Act forward that will run through people and will inspire hope over time as they change their lives to make the announcement of another contribution of a hundred and two million dollars to the work that is being done to support the humanitarian need of Nigeria’s people in the Northeast.
“What is most important, is that we understand that ultimately, the solution of this crises is not about money, it is about changing lives, transforming hope into something tangible and what we hope very much is that this investment of this humanitarian funding over the course of the next two months with the efforts of the Nigerian government and every person in Nigeria, move Nigeria forward along the path that would take you past peace and prosperity to successful lives for women, men and for all Nigerians.”
Receiving the support on behalf of Nigeria, Minister of State, Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Hajia Zainab S. Ahmed, said the US government had been the largest contributor to humanitarian response in Nigeria.
She said, “Last year against the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) they were the largest donors, donating over 300million and this year they are already leading in the donations.
“Not only are they donating money, they are also donating expertise and technical support to the Nigerian government in different sectors including health, education and now they have added protection and the welfare of gender-based violence”, she added.
The Minister revealed that the essence of the conference was to bring together humanitarian response, development work as well as peace because peace is a precursor for everything we do.
“There is no effort that will thrive well in a situation where there is no peace. So we have a special session on peace and security and also the security agencies along with the state government and private sector participants, CSOs among others“, she said.
In her remarks, Humanitarian Development Peace Nexus Coordinator, Dr. Ayoade Olatunbosun-Alakija said the donation “is wonderful news for the people of Nigeria and shows wonderful cooperation with its international partners.
“We are delighted it was a wonderful surprise today to hear that Nigeria has been allocated in funding by the US an additional $102m”, she said.
She noted that the support was needed because “we know that food security is going to become a challenge come October because the funds were running out to provide food for people in the communities”.
She also disclosed that the Federal government is making a massive effort but in addition “we all, from time to time, need help so this is a very welcome development”.