The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, at the weekend disclosed that about 330,000 Nigerians have become refugees, presently residing in Chad, Cameroon, and the Niger Republic.
The Minister, who disclosed this when she was hosted in a Chatham House Webinar to discuss Nigeria’s humanitarian challenges and worsening food crises in Nigeria on Saturday.
According to the minister, the protracted insurgency and armed banditry in the North East and North West, communal and the farmers/herdsmen clashes in the Middle Belt and the Southern region, riverine floods, drought, as well as fires and industrial accidents, among other things, have forced about 330,000 Nigerians to become refugees in the neighbouring countries.
Giving the breakdown of the 330,000 Nigerian refugees, the Minister stated that these include 16,634 in Chad, 118,409 in Cameroon, while the Niger Republic is hosting 186,957.
It would be recalled that the World Food Programme (WFP) estimated that 3.4 million people are currently facing acute hunger in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states and that another 4.3 million are entirely dependent on food assistance from the government or multilateral organisations across the country.
However, in its efforts at boosting humanitarian actions and making them more practicable and impactful, Sadiya Umar Farouq, disclosed that the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, has launched two key frameworks.
She said: “The first is the Humanitarian Development Peace Nexus Framework, which is derived from the UN Triple Nexus principles that believe development causes peace and that humanitarian actions can bring about development. Second is the Localization Framework, an initiative adopted after the commitment of stakeholders at the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit to reenergize the concept of localization of aid.
The concept seeks to make the humanitarian system more effective and relevant by ensuring that humanitarian preparedness and response capacity is domiciled with those nearest to the crisis-affected populations as they are best placed to respond quickly and appropriately”.
Commenting on the approaches adopted by her Ministry to mitigate the suffering caused by humanitarian situations leading to food crises in the country, the Minister said: “The food security challenges in the Northeast are peculiar due to the fluid and volatile situation in the region.
“Nevertheless, the Ministry has been working effectively with both humanitarian stakeholders and the Military to facilitate humanitarian access and promote accountability in the humanitarian space within the Civil-Security Framework and coordination platform.
The recently approved National IDP Policy also provides leadership and guidance framework towards food security for the North-East region, as well as promotes minimum standards and thresholds to tackle ongoing displacement until a durable solution is established for the IDPs”.
During the meeting, she stated that her ministry has put together some programs aimed at addressing food crises and other humanitarian issues faced by the People of Concern in Nigeria.
“The Federal Government, through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) provides rationed food items to IDPs in the Northeast, especially in Borno State. In addition, State governments and other MDAs also channel food through the Ministry or directly to IDPs.”
She explained that the NEMA is currently distributing seedlings, farming inputs and insurance packages to farmers who were affected by the 2020 floods, adding, “the objective is not to replace lost goods and farm produce, but to enhance better quality yields and build resilience among vulnerable farmers and adopt a more sustainable approach to ending food scarcity.”
While commending what she described as the robust support and partnership her Ministry received from donor agencies and development partners, the Minister, however, appealed for increased partnership in key programs, policies, and structures to address the prevailing humanitarian challenges of Nigeria through collective planning and agenda shaping in a coordinated and sustained manner for better impact.
She further called for increased cooperation in the Nigerian humanitarian space, saying, “it is my fervent hope that an effective technical, operational and financial cooperation and support from the UN will significantly contribute towards the effective realization of the Ministry’s twin objectives of achieving effective coordination and impactful implementation of its programmes in a sustainable manner.”