Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC, has called on the international community and other humanitarian organizations to do more to address the devastating consequences of the crisis in the Lake Chad region.
Maurer, who visited the northeastern city of Maiduguri, the epicentre of fighting between Boko Haram and the Nigerian Army, expressed alarm at the scale of the humanitarian needs and the horrific mental and physical scars the violence is leaving on the population.
“The whole communities have fled their villages and endured unimaginable suffering, traumatized people, without homes, belongings, income and education for their children, what does the future hold for them? They need support far beyond what the ICRC can provide. This is a big problem that is not going anywhere, and it demands serious attention,” he said.
The ICRC president, who noted that the conflict has spread beyond Nigeria’s borders into neighboring Chad, Cameroun and Niger, stressed that an estimated 1.5 million people have been displaced, mostly within Nigeria itself.
“Even if the fighting stops tomorrow, it will take years of investment and painstaking work to rebuild livelihoods and services, overcome the trauma and find some sense of normality,” he said while adding that “with a new government coming, Nigeria has a real opportunity to address the root causes of the violence. It will need to show stubborn commitment to that task to be successful, and will need support from regional states and the wider international community. For our part, we are committed to stepping up our help to victims of violence.”
Maurer appealed to donors for an additional 60 million Swiss francs (65 million USD) to enable ICRC do more than its humanitarian response across the four affected countries. He said that the humanitarian agency was working closely with dedicated members of staff and volunteers from the Nigerian Red Cross, adding that the ICRC will use the funds to deliver food to over half a million people, improve access to drinking water for the most needy and provide healthcare, including specialist war surgery.
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