UNHCR needs more support to aid Boko Haram displaced - Bono

The U2 leader singer and co-founder of The ONE Campaign warns thousands of children are facing hunger as UN agencies confront funding shortfalls.

Bono, the lead singer of U2 and cofounder of international campaigning and advocacy group The ONE Campaign, visits displaced families at a settlement in Maiduguri, Nigeria.  © Roopa Gogineni @ ONE

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria – Rock star Bono has warned that thousands of children displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency in north-east Nigeria face severe hunger if more is not done to support vital relief efforts by the United Nations.

The lead singer of Irish rock band U2, and co-founder of international campaigning and advocacy group The ONE Campaign, highlighted the needs during a recent visit to displaced men, women and children at a settlement in Maiduguri in Borno state.

“There are 50,000 children who are going to die if the UN doesn’t get what they need. This is an extraordinary country, but you can see the people in the north-east struggling — they've had their country stolen from them,” Bono said during the visit with Nigerian businessman Alhaji Aliko Dangote.

“This is our next door neighbour and if their house catches on fire, our house catches on fire, it’s just that simple,” he added.

UN agencies and other NGOs have this year sought nearly US$200 million to meet the immediate needs of more than half a million people forcibly displaced by Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad and Niger, but currently have less than a quarter – 24 per cent – of the funding they need.

“There are 50,000 children who are going to die if the UN doesn’t get what they need."

In addition, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, needs US$42 million to aid those displaced within north-east Nigeria by Boko Haram’s insurgency, which began in 2009.

The region, and particularly Borno state, have shouldered the brunt of the insurgency, although a campaign by the Nigerian government has rolled back most of the militants' gains in the region over the past two years.

The push in recent weeks by the Nigerian military has exposed catastrophic levels of suffering among the population of the area, many of whom have been out of reach of humanitarian help for months or years.

Earlier this month, UNHCR warned that some 800,000 additional internally displaced people have been identified as needing help. Severe malnutrition on a wide scale is being reported, at a time when relief operations are underfunded. 

During the few hours he spent in Maiduguri, Bono visited Dalori I camp where he interacted with women in the maternity ward of the camp’s clinic and encouraged patients to have hope in the future.

In a world where violence forces thousands of families to flee for their lives each day, UNHCR believes now is the time to show world leaders that the global public stands #WithRefugees and has launched a petition to send a message to governments that they must work together and do their fair share for refugees.

Join Bono and The ONE Campaign in helping us reach one million signatures by signing the petition now.