Only a third of the $1.5bn in emergency funding sought by the UN this year to prevent a famine in parts of northern Nigeria and neighbouring areas of the Lake Chad region has been raised at a summit in Oslo.

Aid agencies must get food to almost 3 million by July to avert a famine in the region. The conditions for a largely neglected crisis have been created by drought, chronic poverty and Islamist insurgents Boko Haram, the UN said on Friday (24 Feb).

A further more than 10 million are in need of life-saving aid in the region, where – as in Yemen and Somalia – humanitarian agencies have warned of the looming threat.

The Oslo summit, which took place after UN agencies warned the crisis was “drastically deteriorating”, also brought what many regarded as a shift in the attitude of the Nigerian government.

For the first time, the government produced a figure – $1bn – that it was planning to direct to the country’s north.

On Thursday, a separate conference of NGOs heard a call from Ilaria Allegrozzi, Amnesty International’s Lake Chad researcher, for the wider recovery effort to have a greater dimension focused on the rehabilitation of Boko Haram fighters who, she added, had been “portrayed as devils, people beyond any repair or help”.

The governor of Nigeria’s north-east Borno state, Kashim Shettima, said some rehabilitation of former fighters had taken place but insisted the group’s make-up had to be seen as a “triangle”.

“At one end there are the ideologically driven Boko Haram, who will resist any reintegration. Then you have the forcefully-conscripted Boko Haram. Then there are the fortune-seekers who join for economic reasons,” he said.

Source: The Guardian