Opening of the donor conference for Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region

Published under: Solberg's Government

Publisher Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Oslo, 24 February 2017

Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende's opening speech at the donor conference for Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region - in Oslo 24 February.

Check against delivery

Ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of the co-hosts, Germany, Nigeria, Norway and the UN, it is an honor and a privilege to welcome you to Oslo.

We are here to address the severe humanitarian situation in northeastern Nigeria and the Lake Chad region.

We aim at mobilising increased humanitarian support and enhancing longer-term development cooperation.

Our goal should be to provide stability and growth in a troubled region.

Many of today's major challenges – terrorism, climate change, migration, extreme poverty – are too big for any one country to handle alone.

We can only effectively deal with these issues together.

For decades, people in this region have struggled with poverty and the harsh effects of climate change. Boko Haram's terror caused a displacement crisis. Now it has become a severe food and nutrition crisis.

We must act now, jointly, to tackle this complex humanitarian crisis, avoid famine in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, and secure long-term development that builds resilience.

More than ten million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Seven million experience food insecurity. More than 1200 schools are damaged or destroyed. Three million children need educational assistance.

The dire situation cannot be addressed by development assistance alone. The governments of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria are in the driving seat. It is a national responsibility to provide security and community services that will make daily life safe and stable for local and displaced populations. Your strong representation here today shows how committed you are.

This region has a rich tradition for trade and markets. Free movement of people and goods is essential to get the business going and attract investments. This is imperative in order to construct a prosperous future.

What are our main tasks ahead?

First, increased and efficient humanitarian assistance is necessary to address the urgent food crisis. Conflict and climate change have caused alarming rates of hunger and malnutrition. Food assistance and support to subsistence farming in time for the planting season are crucial.

Second, more support is required for education. 14 million primary school age children are out of school across the four countries, many of them in the conflict-ridden areas. The right to education should be fulfilled for girls just as much as for boys. Education is a prerequisite for development.

Third, it is essential to protect the millions of civilians who carry the main burden of this crisis through a principled humanitarian response. We need to defend the rights of refugees and displaced people. We must insist on compliance with International Humanitarian Law and put an end to attacks on health facilities and schools.

To protect women and girls against sexual and gender-based violence should be the highest priority. Women should be included in efforts to build peace and development.

Norway will significantly increase our contribution to Nigeria and the Lake Chad region in 2017 and the years to come. This year we will make a contribution of 729 million Norwegian kroner, including support to the new Nigeria Humanitarian Fund. In total, Norway is pledging up to 1,6 billion Norwegian kroner over the next three years. Roughly 192 million American Dollars at the present exchange rate. This multi-year commitment includes both humanitarian assistance and long term development aid.

Thank you for your attention, and again, a warm welcome to Oslo.