THE crisis in Africa’s Lake Chad region propelled by armed conflict, climate change, and poverty puts the ambiguous humanitarian term “protection” in sharp focus.
“One day they told me it was my turn to make a suicide attack”, Halima, a young Chadian woman whose husband had forced her to join the Boko Haram insurgency, said in a short film played to delegates at a donor conference in Berlin last week. “When I asked them when, they said, ‘today'”. Halima survived the blast but lost both her legs.
Mark Lowcock, the UN’s humanitarian chief, told conference attendees that insecurity, abductions, the forced use of children as human bombs, and gender-based violence were part of daily life in the region, which encompasses parts of Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria and where more than 10 million people need life-saving assistance every day. “At the heart of this crisis, it is a crisis of protection”, he said.
More than $2 billion was pledged at the conference towards humanitarian needs and long-term resilience, more than th $1.5 billion sought and three times the disappointing haul last year.