Aid organisations working to stop the famine in Nigeria will run out of money by June if donors do not give the cash they pledged at a conference in February.
Deputy humanitarian coordinator of the United Nations (UN), Peter Lundberg, who disclosed this yesterday said this will amount to worsening an already difficult situation.
The UN had in March noted that the famine in the northeast of the West African country is one of four hot spots, together with South Sudan, Yemen and Somalia, that constitute the worst humanitarian crisis the world has faced since 1945.
The UN said in Nigeria, 4.7 million people, many of them displaced by the conflict with Islamist insurgency Boko Haram, need rations to survive, adding that an estimated 43,800 people already experience famine.
The world body said two months ago, international donors pledged 457 million dollars at a conference in Oslo to address the needs of Africa’s Lake Chad region, Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad, to go toward the 1.5 billion dollars.
According to Lundberg, for Nigeria, aid agencies working on the crisis have so far received only 19 per cent of the money appealed for.
By comparison, the UN added, aid agencies working on the crisis in Cameroon have received 23 per cent of the money appealed for; those in Chad four per cent and Niger 47 per cent.
“At it stands right now we believe we are running out of money by June-July”, Lundberg said in an interview, adding that donors he had talked so far had cited bureaucratic reasons for the delay.
Lundberg was in Oslo as part of a tour of Nordic countries to encourage donors to make good on their commitments and will travel to the UN in New York later Monday to discuss the issue with other member-states.
Without funding now, he said, aid agencies cannot feed enough people, provide the seeds and tools local farmers need to plant crops, or prepare for the rainy season that starts in May, when deteriorating road conditions mean people will be harder to reach.
Lundberg said the most critical needs for funding are for the World Food Programme, which provides rations to 1.3 million people a month.
“They may have to cut rations instead of scaling up as they should ahead of the rainy season,” he said.
And the UN’s Food and Agriculture Agency, which helps farmers plant crops, has received only 12 million dollars of the 60 million dollars it needs.
Earlier in April, Reuters had reported that WFP’s funds could run dry within weeks.
The UN is unable to reach an estimated 700,000 people, mostly in the remote parts of Nigeria’s Borno state, due to the presence of Boko Haram, roadside bombs and near-daily suicide bombings attempts in camps where displaced people live.