Oslo - A donor conference for Nigeria and the countries around Lake Chad raised 457 million US dollars (432 million euros) for emergency aid today. That is third of what the United Nations thinks it will take to tackle the humanitarian crisis in the region this year.
UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O'Brien said it was great success. He expects more countries to donate when they have decided on their budget. So far, 14 countries have pledged to provide total of 672 million US dollars over period of three years. The US is not there.
The donor conference was hosted by Norway, the German government, Nigeria and the United Nations . Norway's Foreign Minister Børge Brende said the conflict with the Islamist terrorist organization Boko Haram and climate change had led to great hunger in the region. “10.7 million people need immediate humanitarian aid.” Three million children could not go to school.
Germany promises 120 million euros
“People need our help, and they need it they now, ”said Federal Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel. Germany will provide 120 million euros over the next three years. 20 million of this is to be used for measures that contribute to prevention and stabilization in the region. That could be the strengthening of the local police force and border controls or the support of regional governments. "We have to find ways to break the cycle of terror, displacement and poverty," said Gabriel.
Wolfgang Tyderle from the Care organization agreed. “People must have the means to help themselves.” Schools, water supply, infrastructure and health care must be guaranteed so that they can be sent back to their homeland. However, Tyderle considers the amount collected to be too small.
Nigeria's Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama thanked him for the international solidarity. “A tremendous tragedy is unfolding before our eyes,” he said. It is important that the international community become aware of the extent. He also emphasized the importance of keeping the children's education in mind. Children who do not get an education and therefore have no hope could be more receptive to extremist ideologies.
In the Lake Chad region, the fight against the Islamist group Boko Haram "is seen as priority over everything else," said Natalie Roberts of the Organization Doctors Without Borders. The organization sees the medical situation in the region as "the worst in the world". Some regions can only be reached by helicopter.
"When dealing with the Boko Haram problem, we should also think about the underlying problem - poverty," said Ahmed Shehu, representative of civil society from the Northeast -Nigeria. A second aspect is also underestimated, climate change. Lake Chad has dried up to 90 percent within few decades.
The organizers of the conference in Oslo set the goal of raising 1.4 billion euros in aid. Boko Haram has been fighting for years for the establishment of an Islamic state of God in the predominantly Muslim northeastern Nigeria. The militia is now also active in the neighboring countries of Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
Since 2009, more than 20,000 people have been killed and more than 2.6 million others displaced. In addition to Norway and Germany, the donors' conference in Oslo is also organized by Nigeria and the United Nations.