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15 UN envoys to assess Lake Chad humanitarian crisis

Amid a threat of famine and the Boko Haram insurgency, diplomats from the UN Security Council are visiting the troubled Lake Chad region. Around 2.3 million people have been displaced by the seven-year conflict.

Admitting the crisis in Africa's Lake Chad region had been "largely overlooked," British Ambassador to the United Nations Matthew Rycroft said he hoped the visit would "shine a spotlight of international attention on the humanitarian crisis."

The trip, which began on Thursday, was set up to help drive donors to support new financing for the region.

Watch video 03:12

Boko Haram footage shows extent of terror

Four-nation trip

Fifteen ambassadors from the UN's top decision-making body initially flew to Cameroon's capital, Yaounde, before heading to Chad, Niger and then on to Nigeria. 

An insurgency by Islamist group Boko Haram in Nigeria, which has killed 20,000 people has spread throughout the Lake Chad region.

Around 2.3 million people have been driven from their homes during a violent campaign in pursuit of Boko Haram militants, which in turn has created a humanitarian crisis that the UN said is leading to famine.

Swedish diplomat Carl Skau said Lake Chad had been hit by a "perfect storm" of challenges ... terrorism, trafficking, serious underdevelopment, but also the effects of climate change." He said it was vital that the trip was followed up with firm action by member states.

Working with West African countries

France's UN ambassador, Francois Delattre, told reporters that Security Council members also want to support the four countries "in their fight against terrorism."

Delattre said the council will be encouraging the governments to facilitate access for humanitarian aid and to adopt "a comprehensive approach to address the root causes of terrorism."

The UN is seeking $1.5 billion (1.42 billion euros) in funding for 2017 for the region - almost half of which is needed for northeast Nigeria, where 5.1 million people face acute food shortages.

At a donor conference last week in Oslo, UN humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien said 14 countries had pledged $672 million over the next three years to prevent a famine in the four countries. Germany's commitment amounted to $127 million.

He said several other countries indicated they would pledge later this year and the UN also expects a contribution from the United States.

Boko Haram, which Amnesty International said has a fighting force of around 15,000 strong, took up arms in 2009, but the insurgency has since spread with frequent suicide bomb attacks.

Watch video 01:15

Conflict as Lake Chad vanishes

mm/sms (AFP, AP)

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