UN chief urges donors to maintain aid amid Ukraine crisis
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged international donors to maintain funding for humanitarian operations in Africa and around the world even as they respond to the Ukraine crisis
As the Russian invasion of Ukraine has turned into a full-scale war, many countries have sent relief supplies to Ukraine, which its leader, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, says needs $7 billion in relief funds per month.
“My appeal is for those who financially support the United Nations not to divert funds from other forms of humanitarian and development cooperation to the Ukrainian crisis,” said António Guterres. He urged donor countries to “put in additional contributions for this (Ukrainian) crisis and not undermine the humanitarian and development cooperation efforts that are taking place all over the world.
Earlier this week, António Guterres visited the West African countries of Senegal and Niger.
In northeast Nigeria, where the impact of the 12-year-old Islamic extremist insurgency in the northeast of the country has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, 8.4 million people are in need of assistance humanitarian aid, according to UN data.
However, there are already signs that the war in Ukraine has caused a drop in donations for relief operations in Nigeria, according to Priscilla Bayo Nicholas, nutrition specialist at the UN children’s agency.
“The situation in Ukraine affects us here. (It) affects the program in Nigeria because now most of the funds are diverted to respond to the Ukrainian crisis…meanwhile we also have a nutrition crisis here,” said Nicholas in Borno state, the center of the humanitarian crisis in Nigeria.
A key step in responding to global humanitarian crises would be to “reform the global financial system…designed by the rich, for the rich”, António Guterres said in Abuja.
“As we face a situation that requires urgent action, we must make greater use of all available mechanisms for the benefit of developing countries, including middle-income countries, particularly in Africa,” he said. .
While in Nigeria, Guterres traveled to the northeastern region where he met former extremists who had defected from the camps of the jihadist group Boko Haram and its branch of the Islamic State in the province of West Africa.
Jihadist insurgency in northeast Nigeria responsible for 35,000 deaths and displacement of 2.1 million, UN says
In Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, António Guterres laid a wreath on Wednesday in honor of the 23 people who died in 2011 when Boko Haram bombed the United Nations office building in the West African country. Many of those killed were UN personnel.
“Today, the United Nations family stands in solidarity with the families of the victims, as well as the women and men who work at United Nations House every day, to serve and support the people of Nigeria,” said António Guterres. “And we stand in solidarity with all Nigerians who have experienced similar violence in their own communities.”