Insurgency and military operations in Lake Chad region displace 2.4 million people

NGOs say 11 million people in need of humanitarian aid in Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon

About 11 million people rely on humanitarian assistance to survive in the Lake Chad region, a dozen NGOs warned on Thursday, August 30.

Conflict has raged for nine years in the area around the lake which lies between Chad, Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon in central Africa.

“The insurgency as well as military operations across the four countries have displaced 2.4 million people and left 5 million people food insecure, while significantly reducing economic activity,” said the statement signed by the NGOs, including Norwegian Refugee Council, Save the Children, International Rescue Committee and Action Against Hunger.

It has also led to a high number of civilian casualties, the recruitment of children by armed groups, sexual violence and abductions, the NGOs said.

The humanitarian groups issued a plea for emergency aid to help communities ahead of a major donor conference about the crisis in Berlin next week.

The United Nations estimates it needs $1.6 billion to offer life-saving aid for the region in coordination with humanitarian actors.

A donor conference in Oslo last year sought $1.5 billion to help the region. It ended with a pledge by 14 countries to give $672 million, and less than half of that has so far been received, the NGOs said.

“Last year’s conference helped avert a famine in the region. This year’s conference must not only continue this lifesaving operation, but must make protection of vulnerable children, women and men a top priority,” Norwegian Refugee Council Secretary-General Jan Egeland said.

Boko Haram took up arms in 2009 in pursuit of an Islamic state in northern Nigeria but its insurgency has since spread to neighboring states bordering Lake Chad, with frequent suicide bomb attacks.

The group is now divided into two factions that have competing goals and operational methods.

One, led by Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawiis affiliated to Islamic State and largely focuses on attacking the military. The other, led by Abubakar Shekau, is notorious for suicide bombings and indiscriminate killings of civilians.

The conflict has aggravated an already difficult humanitarian situation in one of the poorest regions of the world.

The territory around the lake is difficult to access and the majority of the aid must be delivered by heavy armed convoys and staff transported by costly helicopters.

With reporting from AFP

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