A UN official has urged world leaders to maintain financial support for the Lake Chad Basin crisis and warned that millions still face famine. File Picture: ANA

Johannesburg – The United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock is to address the UN General Assembly in New York next week urging world leaders to maintain their financial and political support for the Lake Chad Basin crisis so that millions of people facing starvation in north-east Nigeria are saved.

“At next week's General Assembly in New York, I will urge world leaders to maintain their financial and political support for the Lake Chad Basin crisis,” said Lowcock, who is also the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, in a UN press release.

Lowcock explained that there had been a significant improvement in the situation, with the international system rapidly scaled up, thereby saving millions of lives, reaching two million people with food assistance every month, as well as providing life-saving nutritional support to hundreds of thousands of children.

However, he warned that millions of people still faced famine in the north-east and that their lives would be at risk should the international community cease providing support in conjunction and coordination with the Nigerian authorities.

The UN humanitarian official also explained that the security situation in the vicinity remained precarious due to the ongoing conflict with the militant Boko Haram group.

Since the beginning of the conflict, more than 20 000 people have been killed, thousands of women and children abducted, many forced into displacement, and subjected to violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.

In north-east Nigeria, at least 8.5 million people are dependent on humanitarian assistance.

Lowcock said that though many towns in the region are relatively safe, more needed to be done to bring safety to the rural areas.

Lowcock travelled to Niger and Nigeria from September 9 to 12, shortly after beginning his roles as the top UN relief official on September 1.

While in the two countries, he also held meetings with senior government officials, UN humanitarian agencies, international non-governmental organisations and the diplomatic community.

Meanwhile, ahead of its planned nationwide strike expected to commence on Friday, the United Labour Congress of Nigeria (ULC) has urged Nigerians to stockpile foodstuff and other basic necessities that could last them during the duration of the strike as critical sectors of the economy will be affected by the action.

The reasons for the industrial action is to create a nation that is better governed for the benefits of Nigerian workers and the country's masses.