Edward Kallon, the UN Resident Humanitarian Coordinator to Nigeria, has refuted Borno Gov. Kashim Shettima’s allegations of under-performance and misuse of funds against UN agencies in the North-East.
Mr. Kallon said during a courtesy visit to the Executive Director of Victims Support Fund (VSF), Sunday Ochoche, on Wednesday in Abuja, that UN agencies had scaled up their presence and assistance in the area.
According to him, UN agencies have currently reached over 2 million people with humanitarian assistance as against barely 100,000 people as at October 2016.
“The challenges are enormous but there has been a lot of progress on humanitarian response since October 2016 when I assumed duty as the UN Resident Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP resident Representative to Nigeria.
“Before I came, the international community was barely reaching 100,000; however, in December, humanitarian assistance was reaching over 1 million families,” he said.
“Presently, humanitarian assistance is reaching about two million people in the North-East; there has been a huge progress so far.
“The UN system is an accountable system and if we receive a request from the Governor of Borno on what we are bringing in and what is being spent we would give that information.
“Such information is not hidden.’’
Mr. Shettima had on Tuesday attacked UN organisations and over 100 nongovernmental in the north-east, accusing them of misusing funds meant for people displaced by Boko Haram crisis.
He singled out UNICEF for rebuke, but also praised eight organisations for their efforts.
On allegations of misuse of funds, the UNDP representative described it as unfair as the operations in the North-East were being executed at a cost which must be met.
He explained that respective UN agencies had the moral obligation of ensuring the security and safety of its staff in the country.
The UNDP Chief therefore advised the Federal Government and relevant authorities at all levels no to politicise the role and response of the UN and international communities in the North-East.
Mr. Kallon advised government agencies to ensure the accountability of government funds being contributed to the efforts in the North-East.
According to him, his principal goal is to ensure coordination among stakeholders in the field through effective synergy.
He applauded VSF for its role in the reconstruction efforts in the North-East towards rebuilding public and personal structures as well as rebuilding lives and livelihoods.
Mr. Kallon said the UN had launched a humanitarian response plan, where it is requesting a million dollars to provide humanitarian assistance to over 5.6 million people affected by the conflict in North-East.
Responding, Mr. Ochoche thanked the UNDP chief for his efforts so far since he assumed duty.
He said the challenges in the North-East were beyond one agency or government to manage, adding that partnership and collaboration were inevitable moving forward.
Mr. Ochoche said the fund was focusing on addressing the crises around health, social services, education and economic empowerment of women.
According to him, VSF has been supporting the safe return of IDPs and rehabilitating those trapped in Boko Haram enclaves back to their communities.
Mr. Ochehe urged Kallon to collaborate with the state government as Shettima’s allegations could be due to a mild miscommunication.