Governments, regional organizations and humanitarian agencies today pledged a major increase in life-saving support to the millions of people affected by the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Lake Chad Basin.

Heeding the call of United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, at a high-level event held on the margins of the UN General-Assembly, donors including Belgium, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States pledged over US$163 million  in humanitarian support for the Lake Chad Basin, an area which straddles Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.

“I am very encouraged by the new commitments of support that have come out of today’s event”, said Stephen O’Brien, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. “We must now use these vital extra resources to accelerate our implementation and do everything possible to rapidly scale up life-saving assistance to the millions of people that urgently need our help.”

Beyond financial assistance, affected countries and humanitarian partners pledged to strengthen collaboration to meet immediate needs of affected communities, provide longer-term development assistance and to address the root causes of the crisis.

Over nine million people across the Lake Chad Basin urgently need humanitarian assistance. Some 6.3 million are food insecure and 2.6 million people, including 1.5 million children, have been forced to flee from their homes. Violence and insecurity have brought economic activity to a halt and farmers across the region have missed three successive planting seasons.

“The Lake Chad Basin crisis is one of the most acute emergencies in the world. The situation of many affected communities has deteriorated beyond alarming levels. If we do not act fast, and do more especially in areas that were previously inaccessible, thousands of people will die,” said Assistant Secretary-General and Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, Toby Lanzer.

UN agencies and NGOs are scaling up their operations to deliver assistance to six million people, including some 800,000 people in newly-accessible areas in north-eastern Nigeria, but the response remains critically underfunded. Only $197 million (or 27 per cent) of the $739 million required for the provision of the most urgent life-saving assistance until the end of 2016 has been received, leaving a gap of $542 million prior to today’s event. 

The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), managed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), has provided over $90 million for life-saving humanitarian aid to 2.5 million people affected by the Lake Chad Basin crisis in 2015-16. 

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the European Union (EU) co-organized the event with OCHA. Speakers included the President of the Republic of Chad, Idriss Déby; President of the Republic of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou; the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari; the Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation of the Republic of Cameroon, René Emmanuel Sadi; the EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides; and the Secretary General of the OIC, Iyad Ameen Madani. ‎