Ten years after the start of a violent insurgency in north-east Nigeria plunged the country into a humanitarian crisis that is "still far from over", the United Nations and its aid partners have underscored the need to "collectively redouble efforts" to help the most vulnerable.
"We are here today to remember those who have lost their lives in the conflict, and to remind of those still struggling to survive and rebuild their lives" Edward Kallon, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria said Thursday in Abuja, the West African country's capital.
The humanitarian community in Nigeria, which is comprised of the UN, the Government and non-governmental organizations, convened to solemnly mark the tenth year of the crisis in north-east Nigeria and to remember the millions of people affected.
"Ten years on, it is not the time for us to spare any effort", continued Mr. Kallon, saying that at this "very critical period", requires redoubled efforts, "with support at all levels - locally, nationally and internationally."
The humanitarian community emphasized the immense needs caused by the crisis, the necessity to continue scaling up life-saving assistance and their commitment to alleviate the suffering of the most vulnerable in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.
Gathering at the UN house, they also reaffirmed their commitment to work together to help people rebuild their lives and communities.
"We have to pay attention to the needs and rights of people, especially those of women and children, and support local organisations to play a more visible role in the response. The protracted crisis in the north-east is of matter to the entire country. We don't want this crisis to last another 10 years," said Ms. Josephine Habba, President of the Nigeria NGO Network on Humanitarian Development Initiative (NINGONET).
A sobering look back
The group also launched a virtual reality and photo exhibition of how the crisis is impacting the lives of compatriots living in conflict-stricken areas, which is being held at Jabi Lake Mall in the capital of Abuja until 15 August.
"The Holding On exhibition transports viewers into the homes and communities of internally displaced people who share the evocative stories of their displacement and the significance of the single possession they are holding on to", said Richard Danziger, the International Organization for Migration's (IOM) Regional Director for West and Central Africa. "This is the first time the exhibition visits one of the countries where these stories originate from and it is a unique opportunity for the people of Nigeria to experience these testimonies through their own eyes".
Over the last decade, the conflict has claimed the lives of some 27,000 civilians and devastated entire communities, villages and towns across the three most-affected states.
Today, the ongoing humanitarian crisis remains among one of the most severe in the world with 7.1 million people in need of life-saving assistance and 1.8 million people uprooted from their homes - the vast majority of them women and children.
The humanitarian community has significantly scaled up collective efforts in recent years and reached nearly six million people with life-saving assistance in 2018.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) mobilizes and coordinates principled humanitarian action in partnership with national and international actors.