By Olarewaju Kola
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AA) - The governor of the Nigerian state of Borno, the heartland of terrorist group Boko Haram, says he is attending Istanbul’s current World Humanitarian Summit to seek aid for the resettlement of 2 million people ravaged by the seven-year insurgency and for rebuilding nearly 100 communities destroyed by the crisis.
"I am in Istanbul to talk about the humanitarian challenges of our people. I will be addressing the summit on assistance toward rebuilding our communities worth about $6 billion," Kashim Shettima, who has been managing the crisis for nearly seven years, said in a message.
Boko Haram, which is attempting to carve out an Islamic state for itself in the Nigerian northeast states, launched its first attack in Maiduguri, the state capital, in late 2009 before it moved into the hinterland, attacking communities and locals.
Borno has also been worst hit by the insurgency, with about 1.5 million people displaced out of the total 2 million people affected in the volatile northeast states, the national emergency agency said.
A recent report by UNICEF put the number of schoolchildren forced out of school by Boko Haram at 70,000.
During a visit to the affected community in Borno last week, Stephen O’Brien, the United Nations under-secretary general in charge of humanitarian affairs, described the humanitarian challenges in the area as “huge”, calling on donor agencies and humanitarian organizations to "show concern before it degenerate into further problems".
O’Brien will be addressing the summit along with Shettima, International Committee of the Red Cross Director-General Yves Daccord, and United Nations World Food Programme Executive Director Ertharin Cousin, all panelists for a side event during the Istanbul summit Monday.