On the 5th of December, the global humanitarian appeal for 2018 was launched, and Nigeria was one of 21 countries appealing for international humanitarian assistance for 2018. The 2018 appeal is the fourth back-to-back annual global appeal for international humanitarian aid for Nigeria. The global amount is for 22.5 billion USD and Nigeria’s portion of the appeal is 1.5 billion USD.
The annual global humanitarian appeal for 2018 is the largest in the history of international appeals. Overall, more than 135 million people globally will need humanitarian assistance, and as is sadly the norm in the history of appeals, African countries dominate the 2018 list of countries appealing for humanitarian aid globally. Of the 21 countries appealing for humanitarian aid, 12 are from Africa with Nigeria a recurring presence in the list since 2014.
The countries appealing for international humanitarian aid and the amount: Afghanistan 430.0 million USD, Burundi 113.7 million USD, Cameroon 305.7 million USD, Central African Republic 515.6 million USD, Chad 558.1 million USD, Democratic Republic of the Congo 1.69 billion USD, Ethiopia 895.0 million USD, Haiti 290.6 million USD, Iraq 550.0 million USD, Libya 250.0 million USD, Mali 255.5 million USD, Myanmar 183.4 million USD, Niger 338.0 million USD, Nigeria 1.05 billion USD, occupied Palestinian territory 539.7 million USD, Somalia 1.50 billion USD, South Sudan 1.72 billion USD, Sudan 1.0 billion USD, Syria 3.50 billion USD, Ukraine 186.9 million USD, and Yemen 2.50 billion USD.
Nigeria is 5th on the list of the 21 countries in the amount of humanitarian aid being appealed for. Syria is first followed by Yemen, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo. Somalia comes just before Nigeria and Sudan after Nigeria.
In addition to the above, Nigeria also features in the Regional Refugee Response Plan. The list include: Burundi RRP, 387.6 million USD, Nigeria 157.1 million USD, South Sudan RRP 1.51 billion USD, Syria 3RP 4.16 billion USD. Other Appeals, Bangladesh 434.1 million USD, Burkina Faso 58.8 million USD, DPR Korea 114.0 million USD, Mauritania 103.9 million USD and Senegal 16.8 million USD. More than half of the countries and regions in this list are from Africa. The presence of Nigeria in the list of African countries now appealing for international humanitarian assistance carries more serious implications than we have given due attention to.
Nigeria’s annual global appeal for humanitarian aid has increased dramatically since 2014. In 2014, Nigeria appealed for 8.4 million USD. The global appeal amount jumped to 103.5 million USD in 2015. In 2016 the amount was 198 million USD and for 2017 1.054 billion USD.
Coincidently, 2017, the year of the launch of the largest international humanitarian appeal in the world marks 50 years since a major humanitarian fundraising drive was carried out globally for Nigeria; the humanitarian response to the Biafra war (1967 – 1970). The Biafra war is one of the two major events that have shaped the evolution of international humanitarian action and global appeals in Africa as we know it today.
The Nigeria Civil war also known as the Biafra war (6 July 1967 – 15 January 1970) left at least a hundred thousand dead and an estimated 2 million displaced. The images of malnourished starving children flooded the western media triggering one of the first massive fundraising drives in history. For the international humanitarian sector, `Biafra served as one of the first conflicts where issues of more contemporary complex emergencies began to develop. Biafra taught the international community how to better provide and coordinate aid and assistance to those affected by a complex emergency. From these lessons came the beginnings of a framework for several issues, including: dealing with internally displaced persons (IDPs), negotiating humanitarian access and repatriation of unaccompanied children.’ The eastern part of Nigeria; the epicenter of the crisis, soon after the war evolved beyond the need for any humanitarian assistance and has become one of the most economically solvent part of the country.
The second major event that has shaped the presence of humanitarian action in Africa is the Ethiopian famine which affected the country from 1983 to 1985. The magnitude of the disaster led to thousands of deaths and gave birth to humanitarian media events like "Do They Know It's Christmas?" charity single and the July 1985 concert Live Aid,
Ethiopia has since then demonstrated that it has risen from the conditions that aggravated the humanitarian impact of the mid-80s crisis. The Government proved this by its commendable leadership in responding to two back-to-back drought from 2015 to 2017, the worst in the country in 50 years. Over 30 years of developing its infrastructures paid off as the systems through which the response was implemented were national systems; impressive health care systems, good roads which facilitated the transportation of humanitarian goods and services. With strong leadership in decision-making and funding, Ethiopia averted a major humanitarian catastrophe in 2016.
Nigeria’s global appeal for international humanitarian aid has grown every year since 2014 and now stands at 1.5 billion USD. Nigeria has become one of the African countries on the list of countries launching global appeals every years. Major humanitarian organizations like the World Food Programme are now regular features in Nigeria; delivering food in the northeast of Nigeria.
In the 4 years of Nigeria appealing for international humanitarian assistance, many around the world are still in shock. Not least of all fellow African countries and Africans who have taken solace and looked upon the economic potential of the country as an asset for the continent. As a fellow African puts it, ‘If Nigeria is now appealing for humanitarian aid around the world, what will happen to the rest of Africa?’ The sense of outrage expressed by President Buhari of Nigeria in 2016 is the last display of national outcry at the global humanitarian situation report on Nigeria.
Today, the sense of national pride exhibited through the country’s response to the humanitarian impact of the 2012 flood that left over 2 million displaced is not on display. I participated at the private-public partnership Presidential Taskforce Flood Committee Chaired by Aliko Dangote in 2012 and witnessed the sense of pride, ownership, dignity and leadership exhibited by the joint private and public sector effort to address the crisis. The message was loud and clear at the bi-weekly meetings: `Nigerians take care of its own’. The committee successfully facilitated the resettlement of over 2 million people displaced by the flood within three months. In the three years I served as the Head of the Humanitarian Advisory Team, I noted a refreshing `unawareness’ of Nigerians to global humanitarian aid, and to global aid appeals.
The same spirit was exhibited in 2013 as the humanitarian impact of Nigeria’s northeast insurgency started rearing its head. The immediate reaction from the country, as was the norm, was to mobilize the private and public sector for the response. In one fund raising event in Nigeria, over half a billion USD was raised from the private and public sector to support the humanitarian impact of the northeast insurgency.
Sadly these national-led initiatives to address humanitarian issues in Nigeria is silent or perhaps invisible or even worse, stifled by the promise of global humanitarian appeals? We hear of global appeals for humanitarian aid to Nigeria, but we no longer hear of the national-led initiatives in Nigeria to address its own humanitarian crises, which was so visible and impressive five years ago.
The prominence of Nigerians in the number of Africans affected by the humanitarian impact of Europe’s migrant crisis and the increasing frequency in which Nigeria features in current global humanitarian appeals does leave much to be concerned about.
 New Issues in Refugee Research, Working Paper No 36. Humanitarian Issues in Biafran Conflict. Nathanial H. Goetz. Pepperdine University School of Public Policy. April 2001deddd