UN's pledge to tackle Lake Chad basin crisis

Screen shots of UN Security Council President and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations Matthew Rycroft talking to the press at the Cameroon Presidency in Yaoundé on March 3, 2017 after meeting with President Paul Biya. NDI EUGENE NDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

The United Nations has pledged to accord the Lake Chad basin crisis due attention.

A UN Security Council mission visiting the region, made the promise after a meeting with top Cameroon government officials in Yaoundé.

The 15 UNSC ambassadors Friday met with Cameroon’s President Paul Biya and Prime Minister Philemon Yang and his government in separately, before moving to the country’s Far North region which is home to thousands of Nigerians fleeing attacks by the Boko Haram jihadist group.

The ambassadors are on a four-country tour aimed at drawing global attention to the dire humanitarian needs of thousands of people of the Lake Chad basin.

The attention

“We came in order to show that this will no longer be a neglected crisis,” the Security Council’s President and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Mr Matthew Rycroft, told the press in Yaoundé.

He said the critical decision-making agency had understood that the Lake Chad region crisis “is not a narrow one”.

“It is such a large crisis, we are here to shine a spotlight and to raise the attention of the world on your country,” Mr Rycroft said.

The Boko Haram insurgency, famine, climate change and poor governance have collided to create one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises affecting over 20 million people across Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.

Tripartite agreement

The UNSC visit came on the heels of a tripartite agreement between Cameroon and Nigeria and UNHCR for the “voluntary repatriation” of Nigerian refugees living in Cameroon.

The UN delegation welcomed the pact, urging all parties to implement it fully.

The delegation met with civil society representatives, displaced persons, refugees and humanitarian workers in Far North Cameroon.

Donors met

They were due to continue the same exercise in each of the four Lake Chad basin countries.

The visit came barely a week after donors met in Norway to raise funds for the growing needs of the thousands of famished people in one of the world’s poorest regions.

According to the UN, over 10.7 million people across the Lake Chad basin — about half the total population of Cameroon, were in urgent need of humanitarian aid, including 2.3 million displaced people and 7.1 million others who were severely food insecure.

Spread its mutiny

The UN was seeking $1.5 billion for 2017 for the region — almost half of the amount needed for northeast Nigeria, the epicentre of the Boko Haram conflict, where 5.1 million people faced acute food shortages.

Boko Haram launched its insurgency in 2009 aiming to create an Islamic state in northeastern Nigeria, but has since spread its mutiny to neighbouring Lake Chad Basin countries.

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