Aid official warns of "terrible tragedy" unfolding in Lake Chad region

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Toby Lanzer. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Eleven million people in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region are in desperate need of aid relief, the UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel has warned.

Speaking to journalists at UN Headquarters on Monday, Toby Lanzer described the situation as "a terrible tragedy which is unfolding before our eyes," adding that a humanitarian conference will be held next month to address the immense needs.

The crisis has resulted from years of disruption caused by the militant extremist group Boko Haram in parts of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

Dianne Penn reports.

This was Mr Lanzer's first New York press conference for the year and he lamented not having any good news to report.

He said 11 million people in the region were in desperate need of humanitarian aid, 7.1 million of whom are "living on the edge" and surviving on just one meal a day, if that.

The seven million figure includes 515,000 children.

Furthermore, he added that Boko Haram activities have displaced 2.5 million people from their homes.

"The UN in response to the situation is working very, very closely. I've been on the ground recently with the authorities of Cameroon, of Chad, of Niger and Nigeria, and we expect to bring together the international community at a conference in Oslo to take place on 24 February…really to shine a light on this terrible tragedy which is unfolding before our eyes across the north-east of Nigeria and the Lake Chad region."

Mr Lanzer also expressed thanks for international efforts that contributed to the recent peaceful transfer of power in the Gambia.

He reported that an estimated 45,000 people who had fled the country for neighbouring Senegal were now on their way back home.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1'19"

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