THE International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says it is open to partnerships with the private sector in Nigeria to bring relief to those displaced, disenfranchised and suffering from cycles of violence.
Its President, Peter Maurer, who made this known at a news conference on Thursday in Lagos, said that the partnership would also support small businesses in fragile situations.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the ICRC works with the Nigerian Red Cross, other Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in conflict regions to trace missing people and visit camps and communities.
According to ICRC reports, nearly 22,000 Nigerians have been reported missing during a decade of conflict in the North-East region of the country.
Maurer, during his time in Nigeria, met with President Muhammadu Buhari, high-level government officials, civil society organisations and business leaders.
He also spoke with families affected by conflicts in Maiduguri and Monguno, many of whom have missing relatives.
According to Maurer, ICRC already has an important partnership with the Tony Elumelu Foundation which was designed to support small businesses.
He said such partnerships would help support small businesses in fragile situations like those in the North-East by helping victims engage in income-generating activities.
“I hope that this event will bring us together with more partners in Nigeria, where a humanitarian organisation and private sector can work to bring relief to those displaced, disenfranchised and suffering from cycles of violence.
“ICRC is responding in particular in the North-East and other parts of Nigeria to situations of violence and displacement of populations.
“Millions of people are affected by the cycles of violence and violations of international humanitarian law.
“I have visited displacement camps and my assessment is that there is still a lot to do between the basic needs in water, health, sanitation and shelter of displaced populations,” Maurer said.
He added that ICRC was engaging for the respect of humanitarian law in conflicts, and positive constructive discussions had occurred with President Muhammadu Buhari and the Governor of Borno State.
The ICRC president said: “We all agree that more have to be done, and I assure President Buhari that we will continue our activities and operations and hope that Nigerian Government can also step up to the plate.
“It is still a very serious situation in which hundreds of people don’t live normal lives with regards to basic deliveries, which include food, water, sanitation, health and protection from the impact of violence.”
He said there was a big gap in healthcare service provision because, from an estimate, only half of the 700 clinics in the North-East were operational.