Photograph — Financial Times

In a bid to amplify humanitarian aid in Nigeria’s troubled northeastern region, some major private sector operators have initiated new donor support for displaced persons.

The group of companies, under the United Nations (UN) Nigerian Humanitarian Fund- Private Sector Initiative (NHF-PSI), has raised $83 million in contributions and pledges so far, majorly from a host of donor European countries as well as the Republic of Korea, Canada, the Arab Gulf Program for Development, and Sri Lanka.

According to the Group Chief Executive of Oando Plc, Adewale Tinubu, the initiative is about Nigerians helping each other. It is championed by other private sector companies as well, such as Access Bank, Zenith Bank, Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) among other notable organisations.

Tinubu, who undertook a collective tour of two internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps in Maiduguri, Borno State as part of the relief efforts, said “Today, I have witnessed some of the most vulnerable people; women and children in the direst circumstances. Having seen the magnitude of their humanitarian needs it is obvious that it is not a task that the government or any one agency can take on alone.”

The tour was aimed at giving the delegation a first-hand evaluation of the condition at the IDP camps, raising awareness of the predicament of the millions of people in the region and stimulating a new stream of support from donors for the initiative, from organisations and individuals across the country.

The humanitarian crisis in Nigeria’s north-east region – Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states – is one of the most severe humanitarian crises in the world today. Data from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) shows that 7.1 million people are in need of urgent, life-saving humanitarian assistance and 1.8 million Nigerians have fled from their homes and are internally displaced as of this year.

The crisis, which began in 2009, was reportedly triggered by a regionalized armed conflict. Ten years on civilians continue to bear the brunt of a conflict that has led to widespread forced displacement as well as violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.

Further reports reveal that over 27,000 people have been killed and thousands of women and girls abducted. Violence against women, girls and children, including sexual violence, exposure to trafficking, and other forms of gender-based violence, is all too common yet underreported, according to OCHA.

Considering the state of things in the crisis-ridden region, the Oando executive further emphasized the role of the Nigerian private sector in the alleviation of “suffering” of fellow citizens, and in building and sustaining the society to achieve a truly inclusive economy.

“To see directors of banks and energy companies show compassion … (for those) affected by this crisis brings a new beacon of hope for people who have endured so much,” UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Edward Kallon said.

The NHF-PSI is a global initiative that comprises 14 top private sector companies across different sectors of the economy. It was launched in November 2018 to integrate the private sector with donor countries in pooling donations and resources together, to create a more collaborative and effective response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in North-east Nigeria.

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