The United Kingdom has pledged an additional £7 million in aid to Nigeria to to fight worsening food crisis resulting from the Corona virus pandemic. New UN data reveals humanitarian crises are worsening around the world, with 235 million people expected to be in need of urgent assistance compared to 175 million people at the start of 2020. An increasing number of Nigerians affected by conflict in the north are suffering acute food insecurity with malnutrition rates worryingly high.
The UK says it is releasing an extra £47 million of aid to immediately provide food, nutrition, water and shelter for vulnerable families in nine countries and regions. £7 million of this funding will be made available in Nigeria through the World Food Programme and is estimated to reach 430,000 Nigerians with unconditional food assistance and nutrition support for 108 days.
The UK is also lobbying international donors to provide more funding and calling for all conflict parties to allow safe, sustained, and unhindered humanitarian access to all people in need of assistance; including 1.24m people the UN estimate are living in areas currently inaccessible to humanitarian actors due to insecurity in the northeast. Compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, humanitarian crises are getting worse according to UN data published earlier this month with 235 million people expected to be in need of urgent assistance in 2021 compared to 175 million people at the start of 2020. Life-saving food, nutrition, water, childhood vaccinations and shelter are all urgently needed to help families in some of the largest humanitarian crises around the world. The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in northeast (NE) Nigeria is also increasing, having risen to 8.9 million people as we enter 2021. Over 3.4m are living in acute food insecurity at crisis or worse levels in NE Nigeria, including 1.2 million living in areas that are inaccessible areas due to insecurity. This is set to increase to 5 million people in the next lean season (June–August 2021) if immediate mitigating actions are not taken.
The UK is the second largest humanitarian donor to Nigeria, providing £85 million in lifesaving assistance in the financial year 2020/21 alone, as part of an overall £258 million of UK development funding in Nigeria. However the UN Humanitarian Response Plan remains significantly underfunded and access remains a major obstacle. Nick Dyer, the UK Special Envoy for Humanitarian Affairs, visited Nigeria in November to urge the government, the UN and the international community for increased collective action to mitigate the deteriorating food insecurity, and to address humanitarian access and protection of civilians concerns.
In September, at the launch of the new Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab announced an international Call to Action to tackle food insecurity, including a new £119 million aid package to combat the global threat of coronavirus and food insecurity of which £8 million was dedicated to averting any further deterioration in food security in the North East region of Nigeria.
At the same time the Foreign Secretary also appointed Nick Dyer as the UK Special Envoy on Humanitarian Affairs to drive the UK’s international Call to Action to tackle food insecurity and help deliver on our vision of a Global Britain as a force for good around the world. The Special Envoy visited Nigeria in November 2020 to understand the escalating humanitarian needs and drivers of conflict in the North East and to underline the UK’s support to the humanitarian response. The extra UK aid announced today will help continue momentum and encourage other donors to step up with additional financing. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said “Hundreds of millions of people living in the world’s largest humanitarian crises are struggling to survive, threatened by conflict, starvation and coronavirus. This extra emergency UK aid will mean people can feed their families and prevent these crises from escalating into widespread famine. We hope to see other donors step up to the plate with some extra funding to prevent these global crises getting worse.”
Gill Atkinson, the Acting High Commissioner at the British High Commission said “I’m pleased that the UK is making this additional commitment of a further £7m in humanitarian aid in Nigeria. It demonstrates how dedicated we are to helping provide continued lifesaving support to people who need it in Nigeria. “It is imperative we prevent a further deterioration in food insecurity in the NE and vital we work in partnership with the Nigerian government to mitigate further decline in the situation. We encourage other donors to do likewise. Thanks as ever go to our UN and NGO partners who deliver lifesaving UKAID on behalf of the well wishes of the British people.”