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UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Ms. Joyce Msuya

Lake Chad reopening: UN official, Msuya, calls for humanitarian, devt efforts

UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Ms. Joyce Msuya

By Cecilia Ologunagba

New York, Jan. 24,  2023

The UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Ms. Joyce Msuya, has called for humanitarian, development, peace and stabilisation efforts as the Lake Chad Basin conference opens.

The UN Spokesperson Stephanie Dujarric, at a news conference on Monday in New York, said that Msuya made the call at the opening ceremony of the Conference in Niamey, Niger.

The two-day event brings together the Governments of the region – Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon, as well as international donors and partners as well as multilateral and international organisations.

“She stressed that stakeholders’ commitment must be measured in decades and not years to build lasting resilience to the shocks, we know are coming and the dramatic changes that are already causing so much hardship,’’ the official said.

Speaking on the first day of the conference, he said Msuya reminded delegates that Lake Chad was once a flourishing region, where goods moved freely across borders, in a collaborative environment.

That spirit of cooperation, she said, broke down under a “Gordian knot of problems”, from extreme poverty and poor access to essential public services, to a lack of trust, rising inequality, corruption, sectarian mistrust, and rapid depletion of natural resources and climate change.

“Immediate humanitarian action is necessary to save lives and relieve the suffering that has resulted from this collapse.

“But…unless we tackle the root causes of the crisis, the region’s wounds will not heal,” she said.

The third Lake Chad Basin High Level Conference has begun, aimed at addressing a range of long-standing issues and the needs of the population, including some 11 million people, who are in need of assistance.

The UN describes the conference as a critical international forum for effectively dealing with the challenges faced by the region.

These include increased insecurity, development deficits, humanitarian needs, and barriers to access to basic social services, production systems and humanitarian support.

After nearly 13 years of conflict, armed groups continue to spread violence in the four countries that border the lake (Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon).

Some 5.6 million people are believed to be at risk of severe food insecurity, and around 2.9 million are internally displaced. including 2 million in Nigeria alone.

These figures have grown since the last Conference, held in Berlin in 2018, a result of increasing instability, the COVID-19 pandemic’s long-term effects, the impact of climate change, and economic shocks, all of which have exacerbated the humanitarian situation.

The amount of funding required for the emergency response in the Basin has also risen, from $259 million in 2018, to an estimated $1.8 billion.

The Conference is co-hosted by the Governments of Niger, Germany, and Norway, together with the United Nations.

The objectives of the conference include a focus on improved coordination between the different actors involved in humanitarian, stabilisation, and development activities in the region.

Others are coordination to better access for humanitarian assistance to all parts of the population; and addressing the adverse impacts of climate change as part of peacebuilding and humanitarian efforts.

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