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“A dramatic humanitarian crisis in the Lake Chad region”

In an interview with the Evangelischer Pressedienst, Foreign Minister Gabriel talks about the humanitarian crisis in the Lake Chad region and about Germany’s humanitarian efforts there. On 24 February 2017, Foreign Minister Gabriel co‑hosted the Oslo Humanitarian Conference for Nigeria and the Lake Chad region.

What’s your view of the current situation in the Lake Chad region? Who is most affected right now?

The Lake Chad region is experiencing one of the most severe present-day humanitarian crises – and the entire world is witnessing the urgency of the situation. The region has truly been hit hard in many ways, specifically by terrorism, displacement, drought and food shortages. Women, young people and children are suffering the most. We are talking about the very survival of millions of people! These people need our help – and they need it right now.

That is why, here in Oslo, I pledged 120 million euros in German aid for humanitarian assistance and stabilisation measures, to be spent over the next three years.

We must not lose sight of the fact that in Somalia or in South Sudan there are millions more who urgently require aid. There, too, the conditions are almost unbearable. I have decided today to make available an additional 40 million euros in humanitarian aid for South Sudan, to reinforce our efforts to overcome the humanitarian crisis there. All this is in addition to the money that the EU has made available for the Horn of Africa. I very much hope that other donors will follow our example.

I would like to ask you about the crisis in the Lake Chad region and the threat that Boko Haram continues to pose. What must the international community do?

First, it must do what we have joined forces with Nigeria, Norway and the United Nations to do here today. We have brought together more than 40 international partners at this donors’ conference. The international community must get together and raise funds for tackling the dramatic humanitarian crisis in the Lake Chad region, so that people can be saved from starvation. There is a greater need than ever for humanitarian aid, and aid organisations must get these pledges so they can plan and effectively do their work.

But that is not all. We must do more than in the past with regard to crisis prevention and stabilisation, with the aim of denying terrorism a breeding ground. At the same time, we are also witnessing a greater willingness in the region to bear responsibility for resolving crises.

That is why we need close partnerships with these countries and with Africa’s regional organisations. Together with Norway, Nigeria and the United Nations, we today established a Consultative Group, through which we want to coordinate specific action with countries in the region, to make progress on the fight against terrorism, displacement and poverty, and to support political dialogue among these countries.

Why are the Federal Government’s efforts in the region important? What form can these efforts take in the long term? What do you think, for example, about the idea of a “compact with the Lake Chad region”? 

The Lake Chad region is traditionally an important hub for business and trade in the countries that border the lake, that is, Nigeria, the Niger, Chad and Cameroon. The horrific terrorist acts of Boko Haram are poisoning economic and cultural exchange between these countries, are destroying livelihoods and have further hampered development. This means stability is important, so that the region can find its footing.

Of the 120 million euros that we pledged for the Lake Chad region today, we are therefore earmarking 20 million euros for promoting deradicalisation programmes, supporting reconciliation processes and strengthening local administrative structures.

We share the desire of many humanitarian actors to achieve long‑term improvement. With this in mind, we not only closely coordinate our policy with our European and international partners, but we also seek to engage in a dialogue with civil society. It was therefore right that the conference was preceded by a forum that brought together 200 civil society organisations to discuss measures for improving the situation in the region.

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