The United Nations has warned that the economic impact of the COVID -19 pandemic could worsen conflict, hunger and destitution in the North-East.
UN Resident Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr Edward Kallon, raised the alarm during a virtual meeting, which also featured Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Farouq, and Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum.
Kallon noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had already worsened the humanitarian situation in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.
According to him, the pandemic has taken a toll on the vulnerable population in the area.
Kallon said, “Peoples’ living conditions and the security situation have significantly deteriorated since the beginning of the year.
“The number of people needing humanitarian assistance is the highest ever recorded in five years of a joint humanitarian response.
”The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting us all, it’s devastating effects will distress Nigeria’s most fragile region.
“Unless we take immediate action, we should prepare for a spike in conflict, hunger and destitution in North-East Nigeria.”
He added that the ongoing conflict in the North-East, and the upsurge in violence witnessed in recent times in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, has thrown many people into destitution.
“Over 10.6 million people, out of a total of 13 million, or four in five people, will need some form of humanitarian assistance in 2020.
“This is close to a 50 per cent increase in people in need since last year, mainly from increasing violence and insecurity further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.
Country Director of the World Food Programme, Paul Howe, who also participated in the meeting, said the organisation was concerned about conflict-affected communities which are already facing severe hunger.
Howe expressed concerns that such communities are vulnerable to the socio-economic fallout from the pandemic.
“They are on life support and need assistance to survive,” he said.
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