From Magnus Eze, Abuja
Minister of Interior, Lt. General Abdulrahaman Dambazzau has expressed concern over the use of the Lake Chad Basin as incubation centre for terrorists and booming market for illicit small arms and light weapons due to the activities of the Boko Haram insurgents.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of a think tank conference on the humanitarian crisis in the north east organised by the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), the Minister bemoaned the absence of coordinated approach to the humanitarian crisis in the area, adding that the region has become home of Africa’s poorest people even with its vast arable land and huge potentials.
Dambazzau, who was represented by the Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Counter Terrorism, Dan Bature said the situation had adversely affected efforts by government to tackle the challenges posed by activities of the insurgents.
He said: “With well over 2,434,000 Km of land area, the lake Chad basin area that is inhabited by well over twenty million people has now been home of some of Africa’s poorest people. It has also become an incubation centre for terrorists and lucrative market place for illicit small arms and light weapons.
“The resultant effect of this is a humanitarian disaster of monumental and saddening proportion. For instance, the activities of the terrorist group have resulted in the death of over 30,000 persons and the displacement of over 1.6 million people and over 18,000 refugees.”
Also speaking, Borno state governor, Kashim Shettima said even though the Boko Haram insurgency directly or indirectly affects the north east region of the country, the intensity of the crisis is being felt more in the three states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa where millions of people have been displaced.
Represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Usman Shula, the governor said the state being the epicenter of the insurgency has been worst hit, adding that the scale of destruction has been so much that no sector of the state was spared. He however said that his administration has commenced reconstruction and rehabilitation of 16 of the 22 local government areas affected by humanitarian crisis in the region.
Acting Director General of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Jonathan Juma said the enormous economic and social deficits in the area required huge interventions from governmental and non-governmental agencies at national and international levels, stressing that while some positive response had come in, there appeared to be a lack of strategy guiding humanitarian assistance in the north east.