International Crisis Group warns of new security risks in Nigeria’s North East

Posted by News Express | 18 May 2017 | 1,417 times

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North-East Nigeria could face new security risks as the world and the Nigerian Government fall critically short of addressing the growing food and humanitarian crisis there, warns International Crisis Group.

In its latest report Instruments of Pain: The Food Crisis in North East Nigeria (published today, May 18), the independent conflict prevention organisation notes that five million people in the region are facing severe food insecurity.

The report notes the crisis has been caused by the seven-year-old Boko Haram insurgency, but the response to the food emergency has been insufficient. This is largely because, as of April 30, donors had contributed only 17.2 per cent of the UN’s $1.5 billion 2017 Nigeria Humanitarian Response appeal. Security concerns blocking access to those in need have also constrained aid organisations.

Already, humanitarian groups say emergency food deliveries are dwindling and may be cut within weeks.

The Crisis Group report warns that as aid diminishes in camps, some displaced people are being pushed to return home “to take advantage of the rainy season to farm and fend for themselves”. Such “a hasty, hunger-driven return to insecure areas”, it says, “could expose them to Boko Haram attacks and overwhelm the army’s ability to provide security”.

Crisis Group further warns that: “Millions of severely deprived, undernourished and displaced youth seeking food and other forms of sustenance represent not only a humanitarian disaster but also potentially a longer-term risk for the region’s stability. They could turn to bandit groups, be engaged by local politicians to fight electoral rivals or be recruited by extremist jihadist groups.”

Averting the food crisis, Crisis Group says, requires donors to increase their contributions immediately by honouring previous pledges and committing more to fill the 2017 funding gap. The Nigerian government also needs to boost its provision of food and other humanitarian aid to the north east and to resettled communities and to phase out military restrictions that have crippled economic activities in Borno State.

Ultimately, however, as the humanitarian situation was caused by the Boko Haram insurgency, overcoming the crisis requires ending the conflict.

Following the precedents set by the negotiated releases of over 100 out of the over 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Chibok, Borno state, in April 2014, Crisis Group urges the Nigerian government to explore all options for ending the conflict now, including through negotiations with the insurgents.

Source: News Express

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