By Sara White
This past Tuesday the Office of Public Witness along with members of the Nigeria working group and the Congressional African Staff Association hosted a briefing to discuss the food crisis in northeast Nigeria. Over 40 congressional staffers attended, packing the room.
The Office of Public Witness has been hearing reports of food crisis from organizations working in Nigeria throughout the Boko Haram crisis. Recently the office started receiving reports from staff of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) describing families struggling to get enough food due to inflation, disruptions in farming, and an inadequate humanitarian response. UNICEF reports that in Borno State alone, where many EYN members are located, there are “244,000 children who will suffer this year from severe acute malnutrition.” Former Ambassador to Nigeria John Campbell is saying that “this [famine] may be the worst we’ve seen.”
The panel Tuesday included American professor Carl Levan, Lauren Blanchard with the Congressional Research Service, Lantana Abdullahi with Search for Common Ground, and Madeline Rose of Mercy Corps. They highlighted the need for increased attention on the ongoing humanitarian crisis, which is highly neglected by members of Congress. It is particularly important to shift the focus of conversation from defeating Boko Haram through military force, to building long-term peace and security through famine relief, economic development, and interfaith interactions.
Visit the Office of Public Witness’s facebook page to see pictures of the briefing: www.facebook.com/ChurchOfTheBrethrenOPW . For ways to raise awareness and support brothers and sisters in Nigeria, read our most recent action alert at www.brethren.org/publicwitness .
-- Sara White is a policy intern at the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C.