To defeat Boko Haram, the Nigerian government must tackle poverty, insecurity and underdevelopment, a UN official has said.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filipo Grandi, made the call on Monday in Abuja, while briefing the media at the end of a visit to the Lake Chad Countries of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
Mr. Grandi explained that poverty, underdevelopment and lack of education are what breed insecurity .
He said that there was urgent need for the Nigerian government to tackle these challenges especially in the north-east.
Over 20,000 people have been killed, mainly in Nigeria’s north-east since the Boko Haram insurgency started in 2009. Millions of others remain displaced by the insurgency.
Mr. Grandi said that there was need for governments in the Lake Chad region to invest greatly in the human development of its citizens.
He said that for any government to successfully win the war on terrorists, insecurity and insurgency, it must first of all win the battle of development.
“We need to look at people’s rights and welfare and this has to remain a people oriented response.
“I have had very important discussions with the President, the Vice President and Ministers and we have agreed that this is a very difficult challenge because very often it is women and children are the victims.
“The women and children that need the most protection have now become the agents of insecurity that are strapped with explosives.
“We need to resolve this very important dilemma and ensure that it does not limit the rights of the people and ensure protection of the most vulnerable.
“We have agreed with the Federal Government of Nigeria to establish a dialogue on this important factor of protection,” Mr. Grandi said.
The UNHCR chief said that the focus of his visit was to see for himself the situation in Nigeria’s north-east, the displacement caused by Boko Haram insurgencies and its consequences.
He said that after seeing for himself and interacting with the victims of the insurgency, there is an urgent need for donor agencies to come to the aid of Nigeria.
Mr. Grandi called on donors to respond to the needs of the displaced persons especially by providing food as a lot of lives would be saved through their assistance.
“UNHCR has asked for 1 billion dollars for 2017 in Nigeria and 250 million dollars to be precise in neighbouring countries.
“For 2016, the appeals that were smaller was funded to the tune of 50-60 per cent and so, for 2017, we need to be more ambitious.
“We have to let our donors know that lives are saved through their assistance, and so, I am really urging donors to respond,” Mr. Grandi said.
He said he was elated to hear from the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, that Nigerian donor agencies and philanthropists have been helping to this course, for the welfare of their brothers in the north-east.
Mr. Grandi encouraged them to keep up with the good work as the humanitarian assistance was not only a government effort but a collective one for the whole of society.
He advised the Nigerian government to put in place its own mechanism for the judicious utilisation of the funds its purpose.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees began his humanitarian visit to the Lake Chad region on December10 to Niger and ended up the visit in Nigeria between December 17 and 19.