The President, Muhammadu Buhari, on Friday in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, pledged $3m as part of collective efforts to kick-start the African Union Humanitarian Agency.
He also called for a more concerted and institutionalised effort to alleviate the suffering of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, saying only a “collective and coordinated” approach would make a difference.
In his remarks at the 16th African Union Extraordinary Session of Assembly of Heads of State and Government on Humanitarian Crises in African and Pledging Conference, Buhari said more than five million people had been displaced in Lake Chad region, with 70 percent of them mostly Nigerians.
This is according to a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, titled, ‘We need to scale up efforts to reduce the suffering of displaced persons, refugees in Africa, says President Buhari at AU Summit’.
While noting that the violent onslaught by Boko Haram insurgents in the North-East of Nigeria had led to humanitarian crises, the President said, “We cannot deny the fact that we have a very dangerous humanitarian crisis in our hands.”
He stated that the humanitarian crisis necessitated the creation of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, which was designed to provide a national response strategy.
The President added,
“This is in line with the Kampala Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons. I am glad to inform Your Excellencies that the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs of Nigeria has continued to live up to its mandate in responding quickly to all situations of displaced persons and disaster management.
“The ministry carries out a compulsory school feeding programme in primary schools across the country. This is to ensure that every child gets at least one balanced and nutritious meal daily.
“Through the ministry, the government established Internally Displaced Persons camps in every part of the country for refugees, returnee migrants, and displaced persons, where food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and other livelihood support are provided for all displaced persons.
“We also have introduced a conditional cash transfer scheme, whereby a monthly cash transfer is made to the very poor and vulnerable in our society.”
Welcoming the establishment of an African Union Humanitarian Agency to cater to the growing needs of displaced persons and refugees, Buhari pledged $3m for its take-off.
“The rationale for establishing this agency is to forge a common African position on humanitarian effectiveness and to create an appropriate continental architecture to effectively respond and coordinate humanitarian crises on the continent.
“You will agree that this conference could not have come at a better time, considering the challenges posed by the increasing rate of Internally Displaced Persons, refugees, and returnee migrants to our various countries and the continent at large.
“In the North East of Nigeria alone, millions of people have been displaced as a result of climate change, which caused the shrinking of Lake Chad and subsequent loss of means of livelihood.
“Your Excellencies, as we meet today in this historic city of Malabo to actualise our dreams to establish the African Humanitarian Agency, I congratulate you all for rising to the occasion.”
The African Union Chairman and President of Senegal, Macky Sall, pledged $3m on behalf of his country, urging other African leaders to contribute to the establishment of the humanitarian agency.
The President of the host country, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, pledged $4m, with $2m for the new agency, while $2m will go to Mozambique.