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Insurgency: Underdevelopment, poverty, more of root causes than religion – Kallon

Mr Edward Kallon, UN Resident, Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria

By Our Reporter

Aug. 13, 2020 - Mr Edward Kallon, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria has said underdevelopment and poverty were more of the root causes to the lingering conflict in the Lake Chad Basin Region than ethno-religious factors.

Kallon made this known on Thursday during a virtual meeting on Nigeria’s humanitarian response with the theme “North-East Nigeria: Act now, Avert the Worst”.

He explained that the root causes of the insurgency might not be effectively tackled until opportunities are created for those in the region, especially the youths in order to enable them make the right decisions.

The UN Resident coordinator said in addition to underdevelopment and multidimensional poverty, human rights deficit climate vulnerability and religious components were also root causes to the lingering conflict.

“What we tried to understand over the period of response is understanding the root causes which are prolonged developmental deficit that reduce opportunity for young people.

“Another critical element is poverty which is now multidimensional with a lot of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) challenges which are fueling the north east crisis situation. Human rights and governance deficit, climate vulnerability.

“Some link it to religious, ethic factor, yes, but that is because Young people do not have the opportunity to make the right decisions.

“Until we are able to create opportunities, we might not get to the root cause.

“There is need for development in the region and need for the people to understand that efforts are being made to assist them,” Kallon said.

Corroborating Mr Kallon’s assertion, Dr Mairo Mandara, Special Assistant and Coordinator, Sustainable Development Programme and Humanitarian Response to the Borno government said insurgency cannot be tackled without addressing developmental challenges.

Mandara said that to this effect, the Borno government has developed a 25-year development framework and a 10-year strategic transformation plan in which the humanitarian work is an integral part of it.

She said that creating opportunities for the youths of the state was an important component of the plan.

“Most Importantly the Borno state government has developed a 25-year development framework and a 10-year strategic transformation plan in which the humanitarian work is an integral part of it.

“So what I am saying now is that the government’s approach now is to look at the continual of humanitarian support to the rebuilding and development.

“Like Edward Kallon has said, there is no way we can get through this insurgency without addressing development challenges simultaneously, particularly creating jobs for the youths and dissuading them from Boko Haram,” Mandara said.

Mandara said the virtual meeting was crucial and provide a good platform for partners to exchange ideas on best strategies to adopt in addressing the numerous challenges confronting the region.

“This is a period where we have unprecedented low levels of funding, yet the difficulties and challenges have multiplied not only because of the humanitarian situation that we have but also the challenges of COVID-19.

“We are creating a strong coordination, a coordination between humanitarian actors, government interventions and developmental actions so that we minimize logistics, duplication and replications of activities.

“We are also creating a mechanism to create transparency so that everybody can see what everyone is doing.

“I can assure you that within the next one month we will be able to see from everywhere who is doing what.

“We are creating a map with support from UNOCHA, who is doing what where, not only on the humanitarian but in development,” Mandara added.

Appreciating the UN system, donors and developmental organisations for all their interventions in the state, Mandara urged everyone to join the “plant a tree in Borno” campaign which aims at tackling the challenge of desertification.

Mandara said desertification is one of the biggest challenges facing the region that has not been given attention.

She stressed that at a desertification rate of about 2km per year it would worsen the impact of the humanitarian crises in the state.

Other Participants at the virtual conference includes Mr Peter Hawkins, Country Representative of UNICEF to Nigeria, representatives from the World Food Programme (WFP) among others.

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