Neglected Crisis Brief: Poverty, terror and threat of famine in the Lake Chad Basin

Daresalam refugee camp, Chad’s Lac Region. Credit: © UNICEF/UN028852/Tremeau

Poverty, terror and threat of famine have forced 2.7 million people to flee and left 9 million in dire need of humanitarian aid in the Lake Chad Basin.

According to a new brief by Theirworld, years of violence and displacement against a backdrop of poverty and shrinking economic opportunity in the region have created a humanitarian crisis on a massive scale.  As 90 per cent of Lake Chad has disappeared over the past fifty years, so too have the livelihood opportunities of the region. Lack of international attention and humanitarian funding for the crisis has enabled the situation to continue to deteriorate.

Nearly one in two of the 21 million people living in the Lake Chad region across Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. The violent insurgency of Boko Haram — named the most deadly terrorist group in 2014 — has forced millions to flee and created a severe education emergency with 1,500 schools damaged, destroyed or occupied and the education of at least one million children dangerously threatened.

According to the World Food Programme and Doctors Without Borders, the situation is precariously close to a famine, as repeated calls for increased aid to the region have gone unheeded. The country-level and regional response plans for 2016 remain less than half funded and an additional emergency appeal has called for immediate funding of US$221 to meet crucial needs through September 2016.

Children in the Lake Chad Basin have been among the worst affected, suffering from violence, threats of abduction or recruitment from Boko Haram and acute malnutrition. Additionally, destruction or occupation of schools in the region — especially in the Nigerian states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa — has barred 600,000 children from school. The education of another 800,000 children is a risk through displacement and regional response plans remain unfunded for crucial education and psychosocial interventions.

Theirworld calls on world leaders to:

  1. Immediately provide US$221m requested for urgent needs in the Lake Chad Basin through September 2016.
  2. Ensure humanitarian response in the region includes provision of safe, quality education, safe spaces especially for the youngest, and psychosocial support for children, teachers and caregivers.
  3. Fully fund existing humanitarian appeals for Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon as well as Nigeria regional refugee response.

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