The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Matthias Schmale, has said the President Bola Tinubu-led administration is on track in addressing humanitarian crises in Nigeria.
The Envoy said this while answering questions from the UN Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria.
He spoke in New York, United States of America on his experience working with the Nigerian Government.
Schmale, who was at the UN headquarters in New York to attend Resident Coordinators retreat, commended the efforts of the Government of Nigeria in addressing humanitarian crises.
He said: “I think that the Tinubu’s administration is on a good track; the President recently launched the Presidential Humanitarian Trust Fund and he is asked at this trust to address humanitarian crises.
“He’s asked that this trust fund is resourced two-thirds from within Nigeria, private sector and government, and a third international community solidarity.
“So, we think that’s the right way to go in Nigeria despite some desperate indicators around poverty and so on as a middle income country.
“We welcome that the government under President Tinubu sees it as their responsibility to drive preparedness and response to humanitarian concerns.”
The Federal Executive Council had on October 24, 2023 approved the creation of a Humanitarian and Poverty Trust Fund to raise at least $5 million annually.
The goal of the trust fund is to enable the Federal Government to respond promptly to humanitarian situations in the country.
The funds will be sourced from the Federal Government, private and international organisations as well as well-meaning individuals.
According to Schmale: “Development agenda is very high for the government and some people will argue you can prevent the fertile ground from combat for violent extremism growing if you invest into development.
“You will have heard from our leadership, the UN Secretary General and the Deputy Secretary General and around rescuing the Sustainable Development Goals agenda.
“The new government is very much up for that.
“We are urging the international community to take up the request for partnership to rescue the SDG agenda and help them accelerate development.”
Answering questions on the security situation in the North East, Schmale said the Nigerian military had achieved what they call kinetic success in fighting Boko Haram.
He added: “So, Boko Haram, again, as a summary term is weaker than it used to be.
“Our assessment would be that they cannot sustain the kinds of military campaigns against the military, but instead, what they are doing is inflicting violence on civilians.
“You know their violence has become more unpredictable.”
The UN Envoy said the organisation “had been seeing rising numbers of civilians being killed and tortured because they do random attacks all over the places, which also means it’s become less safe for civilians, but also humanitarian, so that hasn’t changed.”
In addition, Schmale expressed concern over the instability in Niger Republic, adding that Islamic violent extremist groups from the country might also spread to the North East Nigeria.
He said: “So right now, North Nigeria I think is relatively safe and protected from those influences as much as it can be, but the region itself is not.
“For the UN, I think it’s fair to say the influence of violent extremist groups remains of grave concern.”
NAN reports that Schmale, also visited Washington DC, where he discussed humanitarian, development and peace building challenges and opportunities with interlocutors from the United States.
He met with officials from the US State Department, USAID, US Institute of Peace, civil society and the media as well as senior staffers from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.
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He highlighted the troubling humanitarian situation in northeastern Nigeria and the importance of international support and strengthened partnerships to address humanitarian needs, accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, and combat violent extremism.
In Nigeria’s North East, where some 700,000 children are suffering from life-threatening severe acute malnutrition, UN colleagues – working in support of the Nigerian Government – have managed to reach 3.5 million people with critical aid – in the areas of food, healthcare and shelter.