By: Emma Rumney
The United Nations refugee agency and its partners have called for more than half a billion dollars this year to help those fleeing conflicts in Nigeria and the Central African Republic.
In Nigeria, gains in restoring peace have been offset by reverses and continued significant displacement of the population as Boko Haram continued its terror campaign in Nigeria and elsewhere in the region.
In CAR, relative peace has been punctuated by political violence and unrest, causing many to flee across the border to neighbouring countries.
“These two humanitarian crises must not be forgotten; they are not going away,” said Liz Ahua, UNHCR’s regional refugee coordinator for the CAR and Nigeria.
“Violence occurs on almost a daily basis in north-east Nigeria and CAR, generating fear and new displacement in the region.
“There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but we won’t see it unless there is much stronger commitment from African governments and the international community to help re-establish peace.”
Ahou urged donors to give more generously. In 2015, the response for Nigeria received just over half of the money it needed, while CAR received just 27%. This year, the Nigerian appeal needs $198.76m while the ask for the CAR stands at $345m.
“We need funding to prevent malnutrition among children; to run schools, build up proper sanitation systems and provide clean water; and to make sure that families have a shelter over their heads,” said Ahua.
The appeal, which comes from a total of 53 organisations working in the countries, will fund two response plans to support 230,000 Nigerian refugees and 284,300 members of their host community in Niger, as well as 467,300 refugees from CAR and the 289,000 people hosting them in Chad, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Republic of Congo.
On Friday, three United Nations human rights experts called on the government of Nigeria to assist in the rehabilitation of women and children who have been freed or escaped from Boko Haram captivity.
The special rapporteurs said “gaps remain in implementing policies and supporting laws in a manner that makes a real difference in the lives of all”.
They called for further efforts to ensure that reintegration and rehabilitation programmes leave no one behind, wherever they may have settled.
In particular, they said health systems need to be strengthened to meet the physical and mental needs of those affected, effective measures need to be introduced to address stigma and ostracism of those who have been captured and efforts need to turn to community cohesion, peacebuilding and reconciliation to support those that return from displacement.