An international donor conference for states bordering Lake Chad aims to contain what Germany's foreign minister has called "one of the greatest humanitarian disasters of our age." The region is a hub for terror groups.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has pledged another €100 million in humanitarian aid for the Lake Chad basin, to be paid out until 2020. A further €40 million are to be invested in security and development projects in the region. Germany pledged the same amount at last year's conference in Oslo.
Maas said that the Lake Chad countries have had some success in pushing back Boko Haram terrorists, who have killed more than 30,000 people, according to the German Foreign Ministry.
Lake Chad has shrunk to around one-tenth of its former size in roughly half a century
He warned, however, that there are signs that the terror group was regaining ground. "Recently, we've again had numerous attacks on security forces, street markets, mosques and churches," he said in Berlin.
Ahead of the two-day donor conference in Berlin, Maas had told newspapers of the Funke Media Group that the areas surrounding Lake Chad were seeing "one of the worst humanitarian dramas of our time unfold."
He pointed out that the region was "a hub for terror groups like Boko Haram and "Islamic State" (IS), which could also threaten security in Europe."
The EU's commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, Christos Stylianides, told the same newspaper group that he was "very concerned" about the situation there.
Persistently high inequality and unemployment, poverty and land degradation have proved fertile ground for extremists as many people are lured by the terrorists' false promises.
The UN's World Food Program estimates that more than 10 million people need "assistance and protection." Around 2.4 million are displaced within the region, more than 220,000 from the region are classed as refugees, according to the German foreign ministry.
The Berlin conference is being hosted by Germany, Norway, the UN and Nigeria. It follows on from last year's meeting in Oslo, Norway, where 14 countries pledged $672 million (€579 million) in aid, half of which has not been paid out yet. This year, humanitarian need stands at $1.56 billion, according to the UN development agency.
ng/rt (AFP, KNA)