Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region
For several years, violent conflict and human suffering have marked north-eastern Nigeria and parts of Niger, Chad and Cameroon, located around the Lake Chad Basin. Boko Haram raids and suicide bombings targeting civilian populations have destroyed vital infrastructure, preventing people from accessing essential services, and have caused widespread trauma, suffering and displacement. Coupled with economic hardship in the region, the insurgency has depleted people’s resources and exhausted their coping mechanisms. In Nigeria alone, 26 million people live in the affected areas. The Humanitarian Response Plans identify 10.7 million people in need of life-saving assistance in the most affected areas in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria. Over 7 million people are struggling with food security, with children representing a majority of those in need. 2.3 million people are displaced, a number that has tripled over the last two years.
The humanitarian crisis unfolding in north-eastern Nigeria and in the Lake Chad region was largely overlooked in 2016. The crisis has reached grave proportions that require an immediate and strong response.
This is why we, the co-hosts, Germany, Nigeria, Norway and the United Nations, have decided to organise the Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region, which will be held on 24 February. The urgency of the situation calls for swift, decisive action to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need and to prevent a protracted crisis.
The objective of the conference is to draw attention towards the urgent humanitarian crisis within Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, and to generate support for the needs outlined by the Humanitarian Response Plans and appeals for the respective countries. In addition to emphasizing the need for an immediate response to the crisis, the Oslo Conference will highlight the need to foster resilience, to address medium- to long-term development needs and identify durable solutions for the affected people.
Expected outcomes are:
- Increased political attention to the serious humanitarian crisis in the region
- Financial contributions to address the urgent humanitarian needs
- Statements of political support to the region
- Increased awareness of the complexity of the crisis and the need for both emergency assistance and medium- to long-term development solutions
The Conference will focus on three thematic areas: food security; protection and access; and education in emergencies.
Hunger and malnutrition rates in the region are alarming due to years of conflict, which has prevented people from cultivating their land. Food assistance and support to subsistence farming are crucial for food security in the short, medium and long term.
There is still a great need for protection, especially for vulnerable groups, including women and children. At the same time, a large number of people in need are still not receiving humanitarian assistance, due to access constraints. Enhancing protection and access to humanitarian assistance is therefore of utmost importance.
Attacks on education infrastructure have been at the heart of the conflict, as reflected in the name Boko Haram, translated as ‘Western education is forbidden’. Over 1200 schools have been destroyed, affecting 3 million schoolchildren. Education is not only a fundamental human right, it is also a foundation for a well-functioning society, and providing schooling is therefore essential.
Gender equality will be a cross-cutting theme in all sessions. The thematic debates will include considerations of how to address the needs of women and men, girls and boys respectively. Special attention will be directed to protection against gender based sexual violence, and to the leadership role of women in identifying long-term solutions.
Format and outline
The Conference will be a one-day event to raise awareness of the crisis and increase funding for the humanitarian appeals.
Ministers from the affected countries and the most important donor countries are invited, as well as leaders of relevant regional organisations, development finance institutions and UN agencies, funds and programmes.
The maximum size of a delegation is three (head of delegation + 2). The co-hosts encourage participants to ensure a good gender balance in their delegations.
Opening statements will be presented by the co-hosts (Norway, Germany, Nigeria and the United Nations), followed by statements from affected countries (Cameroon, Chad and Niger) and a civil society representative.
Participants will be invited to make statements of political and financial support (maximum three minutes each). The plenary session will be followed by lunch.
Three consecutive thematic sessions will be chaired by co-hosts in cooperation with responsible UN agencies:
- Food security: Germany and WFP
- Protection and access: Nigeria and UNHCR
- Education in emergencies: Norway and UNICEF
All three sessions will start with an introduction by the responsible co-host, followed by an expert statement and a panel debate. Representatives from civil society will be invited to participate in the panel. Background documents setting out challenges and proposed solutions for each of the thematic sessions will be made available on the conference website.
A Chair’s Outcome Statement will be presented by Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Børge Brende.
A civil society conference organised by Norwegian civil society will take place on 23 February, at the same venue as the Conference. The civil society conference will aim at giving analysis and highlighting challenges and opportunities within the same thematic areas as the Conference. The programme for the civil society conference will be available on the Conference website.
Two side events on Sustainable health response in emergencies and Response and recovery towards durable solutions will be organized in the afternoon of 23 February. Side events will bring attention to important challenges and concerns in the region, to strengthen the vital nexus between humanitarian relief and development.