BY MIKE OCHONMA
The British high commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing recently welcomed partners from the federal government, the United Nations, and other diplomatic missions in Nigeria to launch the G7 Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Compact. This was a welcome opportunity to discuss the impact and ways to foster collaboration with Nigerian partners, the UN, and members of the international community.
Representatives from the government, including the ministry of humanitarian affairs, ministry of agriculture and rural development, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), and the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and IDPs, attended along with others from Borno, Adamawa and Yobe state governments.
The diplomatic missions of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the USA as G7 member states took part, as well as attendees from the diplomatic mission of the European Union. Delegates from UN agencies, the World Bank, and other non-governmental organisations also attended.
The landmark commitment agreed by the G7 in May this year is critical to tackle the root causes of famine and address the sharply rising numbers of people in need of lifesaving aid. The Compact commits G7 members to urgently provide an initial $7 billion in humanitarian assistance to 42 countries one-step from catastrophe or famine, with further funding to follow over the course of this year. The initial funding includes $382 million for North East Nigeria.
Representatives at the meeting believed that, it is not only about money. It is also about diplomatic action, smarter financing, and more effective responses to crises. As well as addressing critical funding gaps, the G7 committed to act early to avert crises.
In 2016-17, international engagement responded to food security alerts and averted a famine in North East Nigeria. With conditions returning to similar levels today, G7 representatives agreed we must act early and with no regrets to save lives and tackle the drivers of acute food insecurity.
It also commits the G7 to working with the World Bank Group to help fragile and conflict affected countries build their capacity to prepare for, and respond to, crises, including through shock responsive and social protection systems. Delegates at the launch noted that together they have the capability to strengthen early warning and real-time analysis through data collection and coordination to ensure more timely and informed decision making.
At the launch event, attendees stressed that humanitarian access must be improved to ensure lifesaving aid reaches all conflict-affected communities. They also committed to work collectively to promote respect for, and abidance to International Humanitarian Law and the protection of civilians.
In North East Nigeria an estimated one million people are inaccessible to humanitarian actors due to insecurity; despite international law obligating all parties to a conflict to enable safe, sustained, and unhindered access to all civilians in need of assistance. The launch demonstrated the international community’s commitment to supporting Nigeria to address the crisis and reduce the impact it is having on millions of people.
This can be achieved in partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria, the State Governors of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, and multilateral partners like the United Nations and World Bank.In 2020, G7 countries provided almost 80 percent of the humanitarian funding to the 42 countries with populations one-step from catastrophe or famine targeted by the Compact. Today G7 representatives called on the wider international community to significantly increase their humanitarian support to the North East crisis.