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Press Statement by Toby Lanzer United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel

"I have just concluded my fifth visit to rural parts of Nigeria's north-east and for the second time was able to witness the situation in one of the most destroyed towns, Bama. I was last there in the first week of April and since then there has been progress. Again, I was honoured to be in Bama with His Excellency Governor Kashim Shettima with whom we marked World Humanitarian Day on Friday 19 August.  

Most importantly, Bama is firmly under the control of the Nigerian authorities and felt more stable and safe to me than earlier this year. There are about 20,000 people in Bama and they are concentrated in the town's camp for displaced persons. Conditions there in April were poor but this time I saw considerable improvement. The Nigerian authorities have opened a school and are conducting classes. They have also opened a clinic and are attending to people who are sick. Aid agencies have stepped up their engagement. For example, the World Food Programme is providing rations for more than 15,000 people and the International Organization for Migration and the UN's Refugee Agency have supported families to build hundreds of all-weather shelters. I was particularly heartened to see young people of Bama, who had been displaced to Maiduguri, returning to Bama to help the aid agencies with our work.

There is no question that much more needs to be done in Bama, and indeed in other key towns of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states, and more broadly across the entire Lake Chad Basin. The scale of the crisis in the region is staggering: 9 million people need emergency relief; 4.5 million people are severely food insecure; 2.5 million people have been forced from their homes. I expect in the coming days and weeks more results from non-governmental organisations and UN agencies, such as UNICEF, as we are able to move along the roads and overnight in key towns. Of course, the re-emergence of polio in Borno is another blow to the people of the region and a challenge for the authorities and aid agencies, alike. Our stated purpose is to meet people's needs and I have no doubt that, together with an increasingly engaged donor community, much more good work must and can take place.

The key for sustainable peace, also, will be continued security and a greater engagement by the civilian authorities and development and environment organisations which together must address the root cause of the suffering: abject poverty. Re-establishing security in all towns and across the rural expanse is crucial to enable people to farm, tend to their livestock and trade. Building on people's will, energy and resilience is the best way of ensuring a safer and more prosperous future for the people of Nigeria and the neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger.”

 

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