The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) says it needs over $182 million to sustain aid in Nigeria’s North-east for the next six months.
The UN agency disclosed this in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES by its national communications officer, Kelechi Onyemaobi, on Wednesday
The WFP said funding is needed urgently for millions of people in Nigeria who have been severely hit by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, including conflict-hit communities “on life-support” in the North-east.
“We are concerned by conflict-affected communities in northeast Nigeria (Borno, Adamawa and Yobe) who already face extreme hunger and who are especially vulnerable. They are on life-support and need assistance to survive,” the WFP senior spokesperson, Elisabeth Byrs, was quoted to have said in the statement.
To cushion the negative effects on vulnerable people in countries hit by conflicts and the coronavirus pandemic, some humanitarian agencies across the globe have been seeking for more funding in order to ensure normalcy is restored.
The outfit says it is the world’s largest humanitarian organisations saving lives in emergencies, building prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.
Before now, the three aforementioned states of the northeastern region of the country have been plagued by a decade-long insurgency that has displaced millions of people, rendering them homeless, with properties worth billions of naira destroyed. Thousands have died in the conflict.
The WFP said, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), “this region remains one of several most severe humanitarian crises in the world, with some 7.9 million people, especially women and children in need of urgent assistance today”.
It said it plans to help a total of 1.8 million people in the region.
Mrs Byrs said, “That’s why WFP is distributing now two months’ worth of food and nutrition assistance in IDP camps and among vulnerable communities to ensure that people have enough food while they are on full or partial lockdown.”
More than 3.8 million people mainly working in the informal sector, are at the risk of losing their jobs amid rising hardship, Ms Byrs said, “and this could rise to 13 million if movement restrictions continue for a longer period.”
She said almost 20 million (23 per cent of the labour force) are already out of work.
“In a country where about 90 million people – 46 per cent of the population – live on less than $2 a day, this is a real concern. The urban poor who depend on a daily wage to feed themselves and their families have been deeply hit by movement restrictions to contain the spread of the virus,” she said.
The WFP said three million individuals among the most vulnerable, will receive help, and additional support to government social protection systems in the cities of Abuja, Kano and Lagos – places where the agency has not been present until now.
“We are actually scaling up our operations in the North-east to serve more people in response to the new challenges of more food insecurity posed by COVID-19,” Ms Byrs said.
She said “there have been a few delays with COVID-19 containment movement restrictions that are affecting supply chains. We continue to appeal to all parties to ensure access to people in need and respect humanitarian space.”
The WFP also said its efforts include re-adjusting school meals programmes during school closures by providing food to take home. The initiative, it said, kicked off in Abuja and Lagos, in mid-May.
As of Tuesday, Nigeria recorded 663 confirmed COVID-19 cases, the highest daily figure of the disease since its emergence, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control(NCDC).
With the latest update, the total tally of infected people in the country rose to 13, 464 from 12, 801 reported on Monday evening.
Four deaths were recorded from the virus on Tuesday bringing the total number of confirmed deaths from the virus to 365.
Till date, 13, 464 cases have been confirmed, 4206 discharged and 365 deaths have been recorded in 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory, the NCDC was quoted to have said.