Germany, Norway pledge funds for crisis-hit Lake Chad region

International donor conference kicks off in Berlin to stabilise region facing massive humanitarian challenges.

    Germany and Norway have pledged more than $150m of additional aid for Africa's Lake Chad region, where millions of people are facing a humanitarian crisis driven by violence, poverty and climate change.

    The promises came as an international donor conference aimed at stabilising the states bordering the lake - NigerNigeriaChad and Cameroon - went under way in Germany's capital, Berlin, on Monday.

    Around 2.3 million people are displaced and more than 10 million are dependent on humanitarian aid in the region, according to the German foreign ministry.

    "We stand together so that the region of the Lake Chad, the economic hub between North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, does not turn into a hub for terrorism, crime, and human trafficking," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told the conference, which was co-hosted by Germany, Nigeria, Norway and the United Nations.

    "Until 2020, we will allocate an additional 100 million euros ($116m) in humanitarian assistance," he added.

    Haas underlined the importance of regional cooperation and promised that Germany would increase its assistance for these countries.

    The German government has also vowed to provide a further 40m euros ($46m) for security projects.

    For her part, Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide said that Oslo planned to "further increase our humanitarian support to over $40m for the next three years".

    "We need to ensure that the situation remains on the international agenda. We must do more, and we must do it together. We must continue to strengthen the humanitarian response in accordance with humanitarian principles to protect and to assist people in need," she said.

    Aid agencies say more than 10 million people in the Lake Chad region need urgent humanitarian aid and protection [File: Reuters]

    The territory around Lake Chad is difficult to access and the majority of the aid must be delivered by heavy armed convoys and staff transported by costly helicopters.

    The UN estimates it needs $1.6bn to offer life-saving aid to the region in coordination with humanitarian actors.

    A donor conference in Oslo last year ended with a pledge by 14 countries to give $672m in aid, well below the $1.5bn sought.

    The region is suffering from a long-running armed campaign by the Boko Haram armed group and the climate change-induced shrinking of a lake that once sustained millions.

    Boko Haram took up arms in 2009 in pursuit of a caliphate in northern Nigeria but the fighting has since spread to neighbouring states bordering Lake Chad, with frequent suicide bomb attacks.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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