World Bank: Boko Haram stalls African aid projects
•Anti-Polio efforts also slowed down, says Bill Gates
Threats and killings by Islamist militants are jeopardizing World Bank-funded agriculture, health and water projects in parts of Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad, a bank official said yesterday.
Makhtar Diop, a vice president for the financial institution, said Boko Haram’s terrorism has set back projects to improve the livelihoods of people in famine-stricken northern Nigeria and Cameroon and southern Chad.
The American billionaire philanthropist, Bill Gates said separately that insurgency by Boko Haram is affecting a donor-backed target to record no cases of polio in Nigeria.
In northern Cameroon, a high-poverty area that’s vulnerable to natural disasters, a $108 million grant is stagnating instead of rehabilitating embankments, dams and irrigation systems and improving disaster-preparedness.
Diop met with Cameroon President Paul Biya to discuss how Boko Haram has created panic and slowed the execution of some World Bank-financed projects.
Diop told the Voice of America (VOA) they talked about economic development and how to increase “the conditions of peace and stability … and try also to see how we can strengthen all the social protection programs to alleviate poverty.”
Investors and foreign workers also are leaving far northern Cameroon. Chinese road construction engineers left Mora, on the border with Nigeria, after suspected Boko Haram members kidnapped 10 of their workers in May.
Cameroon, Benin, Chad, Niger and Nigeria declared war on Boko Haram in May, weeks after the militant group kidnapped at least 276 girls from their school in the Nigerian village of Chibok, in Borno State.
Bill Gates told reporters in Addis Ababa that effort to eradicate polio in Nigeria is being hampered by the Boko Haram insurgency in the North.
Authorities suspect gunmen from the Islamist sect abducted three health workers giving vaccinations in Bauchi state in March and killed nine others in attacks on polio immunization centers in Kano last year.
“This Boko Haram disruption is the one real cloud on the horizon where it means there are groups of children we’re not able to get to,” Gates said.
“So we’re hopeful that won’t get even more intense.”
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supports the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in three polio-endemic nations – Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan – as well as other African countries where there’s a risk the disease could spread.
According to Amnesty International, more than 1,500 civilian deaths have been reported amid increasing violence and assaults by the violent group in the past five years.
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