Speech/statement | Date: 23/02/2017 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende's opening statement at the civil society meeting at the donor conference for Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region. The conference takes place in Oslo.
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It gives me great pleasure to open the civil society meeting of the Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. (I would like to extend a warm welcome especially to those of you who have travelled all the way from Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.)
The displacement crisis in northeastern Nigeria and the Lake Chad region has become a severe food and nutrition emergency.
More than 10 million people are in need of assistance. More than half a million children are facing severe to acute malnutrition. Some parts of northeastern Nigeria may already experience famine.
This conference is organized to mobilize international attention and assistance, to close the gap between immediate needs and available resources.
It is a humanitarian imperative to act, to act now, and scale up the response. The affected population must get the help they need to survive.
We are also here to look at the root causes of the dire situation. Alongside a strong humanitarian response based on humanitarian principles, we must provide durable solutions for the 26 million affected people, including the 2.3 million who are internally displaced.
Women and girls as well as vulnerable groups, such as person with disabilities, should be given particular priority.
Conflict, climate change and extreme poverty call for a longer-term commitment in the region. As Boko Haram is driven back, governments have to invest in the resilience of local communities – in farming and trade, in education and health care, in safety for the population.
Only such investments will pave the way for a peaceful development in the region.
Food security and nutrition; Protection and access; Education in emergencies: The issues on the agenda today are crucial both in the short and longer term. Let me also highlight the importance of a strengthened health response - to be discussed this afternoon.
Northeastern Nigeria and the Lake Chad region need our backing - today and in the years to come. Norway will tomorrow announce a multiyear pledge that includes both humanitarian and development aid. I hope others will make similar commitments.
Many organizations work hard to address the crisis. They deserve increased support from the international community. UN agencies have strengthened their presence, and are scaling up further. The Red Cross-Red Crescent movement and a number of international and civil society organizations, many present here today, are doing a great job under often very difficult circumstances.
We must not forget that every day humanitarian workers are risking their lives to save others, despite the fact that all parties to conflict have a responsibility to protect them and provide humanitarian access to civilians in need of assistance.
Civil society plays a crucial role in reaching the affected communities, and in voicing the concerns of local people. Some of you will participate in the panels tomorrow and convey key messages from today's discussions.
Your input will be powerful. It will reflect the voices from the field. All participants will benefit; the outcome of the conference will be strengthened. Thank you for your attention.