Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to thank you, Børge Brende, for hosting us. But I would also like to thank each and every one of you for joining us at this important conference.
This conference is about raising awareness and much needed financing in order to improve the dire humanitarian situation in the Lake Chad region. At the same time, there is an ongoing discussion in Europe about increasing the military spending. This strikes me as a discussion that is disconnected from what we see in many parts of the world – hunger, poverty, a lack of future. Wouldn’t it be wise to invest more in humanitarian assistance, in stabilisation and in development aid, which has a real impact on the lives of millions of people, instead of concentrating the discussion on military expenses?
By coming together around this table, we are sending out a message – loud and clear: We must not look away! We must not turn a blind eye to the suffering of millions of people in the Lake Chad region. Hundreds of thousands of children are threatened by hunger. Millions of people have been forced from their homes – fleeing Boko Haram’s brutal terror. Countless families are battling to survive, living in conditions that we find hard to even imagine!
These people need our help and they need it now!
That’s why I am joining Børge Brende in calling for your support. Germany will contribute 100 million euros over the next three years in humanitarian assistance to the region.
This aid is crucial. Humanitarian assistance helps people to survive. That is the utmost priority.
But the bad news is: This will almost certainly not be enough. We need to do more. We must prevent this crisis from becoming protracted. We have to seek ways to break the cycle of terror, forced displacement, economic disruption and poverty. We need to target preventive measures – to stop a crisis from escalating. And we need to focus on stabilizing a situation rather than letting it deteriorate until millions suffer. This is the spirit of the commitments we made at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul last year.
And this is why Germany is contributing at least 20 million euros over the next three years to finance prevention and stabilization measures in the Lake Chad region; together with our humanitarian assistance we will spend 120 million euros. Strengthening the capacities of local police and border control is one important example.
We want to support the governments in the region in their efforts to stabilize communities and strengthen local governance. And we want to do so together with our partners! For that purpose we and the countries of the Lake Chad region have agreed on the formation of a consultative group to focus on preventive and stabilization measures for the region. We want to assess what we can do to complement humanitarian assistance and build bridges to longer-term development cooperation. I invite all interested partners to join this group!
Looking beyond crisis management and towards ways to boost economic development in Africa – that was also a key topic we discussed at our G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bonn last week. And I am glad that all of us agreed that we will only be able to tackle our challenges if we work together internationally.
The same is true for this conference!
That’s why I encourage you all to rally around this crucial cause and help those in desperate need in the Lake Chad region. It is our joint responsibility. We can make a difference. But we must act together! And we must act now!