Waiting for world food programme
By Odimegwu Onwumere
Findings made by the joint United Nations (UN) on speedy food security evaluation in the ravaged northern Nigerian states of Adamawa, Yobe and Borno by a radical Islamic sect known as Boko Haram, alarmed Nigerian Government and its people.
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, harangued that some 650,000 people were displaced in Adamawa, Yobe and Borno, where attacks by Boko Haram happened regularly.
Many families fled for their lives into Cameroon. Sometime in 2014, the World Food Programme (WFP) and its humanitarian partners in Cameroon planned for a maneuver to help as many as 50,000 before the year passed.
While some Nigerians who were affected by Boko Haram fled into Cameroon and Chad, humanitarian organizations in Cameroon also dealt with noteworthy refugee tragedy in the East. Conflict in the Central African Republic drove 107,000 people into Cameroon's eastern regions.
Worried by this situation, the Special Operation (SO) was established. The aim was to guarantee humanitarian entrance to north-east Nigeria through the stipulation of protected and dependable air transport services.
There was the provision of evacuating charitable staff when necessary. The security situation worsened and hundreds of thousands of people were displaced and the crisis escalated to neighbouring countries and caused tremendous humanitarian uprising.
The UN agencies and other humanitarian organizations geared up to assist displaced people in the affected areas irrespective of a UN report characterized by “road insecurity and long waiting at checkpoints that are often subject to insurgent attacks”.
The UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator demanded the Word Food Programme (WFP) to institute its United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) in Nigeria with getaways to poles-apart locations in the northeast so that access to mission realization sites would be realized and make-easy humanitarian reaction to the recounting crisis.
The entreaty was a follow up to the WFP Aviation groundwork needs, appraisal undertaking, in July 2014 and another WFP Scoping mission to Nigeria in February 2015. The programme was in coordination with UNDSS, UN bureaus and other arrowheads to classify the air transportation fissure.
“With a budgeted cost of US$ 3,574,602, SO 200834 will be managed by the WFP West Africa Regional Bureau from 1 May to 31 October 2015 with one fixed wing aircraft.
“Under the project, the current UNHAS link between Dakar and Accra will also be extended to Abuja periodically to ensure a complete regional network and connect humanitarian activities in Nigeria to those elsewhere in the sub-region,” said a source that claimed anonymity.
Waiting For UN
Amina Adamu, 14, was no longer thinking about the parents whom she said were killed by Boko Haram insurgents in Maiduguri, Borno State. She was not thinking about her clothes she could not bring, her books, property and sundry when her village was attacked, she was thinking of how to feed.
Like many of her ilk numbering 2.2 million in the entire school compound that has not seen running water, electricity, moan has become their accomplice; they’re now called internally displaced people (IDP).
By 11 Feb 2015, they left their homes from areas that remained out-of-the-way and seriously affected by the Boko Haram aggression. They were desolate, with many like them called “Nigeria's refugees in Chad” by the United Nations (UN).
These people were not lazy. They had their farms and could grow foods. The “Nigeria's refugees in Chad” had been at the Yokoua displaced people’s site, since their Lake Chad island village was attacked by Boko Haram in June 2015.
While Adamu and others remained in the school compound, many others were with the host communities and their complaints were hunger. They had little or no support. Those with children lived from hand to mouth with their children out of school and dying of hunger.
The United Nations (UN) said that in the northern Nigeria, 130, 000 students were in primary and secondary school from nearly half a million the number was.
Hope For Food
“As areas become more accessible and we collectively develop a more refined understanding of what people need, WFP is working with the Government and other agencies such as UNICEF to urgently reach the most vulnerable,” said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin.
“We are working in a highly complex environment. It is a race against time as the lean and rainy season is upon us. We know that unless we act fast, and we act now, hunger will only deepen in the months to come,” she added at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.
Adamu was cheerful that she could see food and eat at last when the World Food Programme (WFP) started distribution of food. A 16-year-old girl was given entrée to a cash support of $84 per month for six months to buy food and other crucial.
The WFP began to provide assistance to this new wave of Nigerian refugees since June, 2014 and reached nearly 7,500 in a first round of food distributions.
“With diminished harvests caused by the devastating effects of drought and halted crop production in most farming districts, food supplies are terribly low. We face various constraints as we make provision for our dwindling food reserves,” said the Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima.
On March 7 2015, while working with the Nigerian Government and its partners, WFP initiated mobile-phone platform cash backing more than 4,000 dislodged people in Maiduguri.
“We are now working at full capacity to address the immensity of needs and hope our collaborations with WFP and other partners will ensure an end to the severe food insecurity at hand.
“In addition to the mobilization of consolidated financial support to address current requirements, there is also a dire need for sustained development strategies in order to adequately end needs,” Shettima said.
Hope was given to about 70, 000 people whom the WFP said would receive the life-saving support. But apart from Nigeria, the UN lamented that some 80,000 Chadians were displaced from their islands.
In Lake Chad Region Of Chad
“At 13 percent, the prevalence of malnutrition in the Lake Chad region of Chad has exceeded World Health Organization emergency levels – a marked deterioration since 2012,” a UN report said.
Characterizing the Boko Haram quagmire as the worst ever seen in Africa where people were displaced in torrents, the WFP distributed food and nutritious support to 5,000 people in the Lake Chad region of Chad.
“With the Nigerian Government and other partners, WFP is doing all it can to gather data so there is a better understanding of needs. We are expanding coverage of mobile-phone based surveys to 6,000 households, and are analyzing satellite imagery so we can understand better how families are coping and can prioritize areas to receive assistance without delay,” Cousin said.
The international body said that increased fighting and insecurity in northeast Nigeria and the border region led to a gush of refugees and internally displaced people.
In March 2016, on the out sketch of Mokolo town, a far North Region of Cameroon, near the border with Nigeria, WFP hosted many displaced persons with food distribution.
They were over 5,000 that took with them items like rice, oil and pulses. The WFP made sure that pregnant women and nursing mothers received porridge to thwart underfeeding.
They were also taught how to prepare nutritious food in cooking classes where WFP joined forces with UNHCR and UNICEF, and other agencies to make the objective a reality.
The WFP said that some 2.5 million people faced hunger in northeastern Nigeria. More than 800,000 people were desperately in need of food aid in Borno and Yobe states.
And the body would give food or cash-based support to 431,000 people, including specific nutritious food to 64,000 children under the age of two at jeopardy of malnutrition in Borno and Yobe, being the States nastiest-affected by hostility.
“This is the largest recent displacement crisis in Africa” – WFP
“In response to rising food insecurity, malnutrition concerns and continued displacement in the Lake Chad Basin, WFP aims to scale up its assistance from 600,000 people assisted last year to nearly 750,000 people.
“WFP needs urgent support to continue to provide food and nutritional assistance to displaced and vulnerable host communities alike.
“WFP needs USD 123 million until the end of the year to respond to growing needs in the Lake Chad Basin. To date, only 17 percent of the required funding has been secured,” said a WFP report of March 2016.
Odimegwu Onwumere is a Rivers State based poet, writer and consultant and winner, in the digital category, Nordica Media Merit Awards