Four in ten Nigerians – over 80 million people, more or less the population of Germany – live below the poverty line. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, they would have struggled to provide for themselves and their families. Now, they are some of those hardest hit by the pandemic’s devastating impact on lives and livelihoods.
Working together as Team Europe, the EU and its Member States have been working hard to support Nigeria and its people in these difficult times. Recently, the EU’s Delegation in Nigeria provided food relief packages to vulnerable people in hard-to-reach communities in and around the capital, Abuja. Local leaders helped identify the people most in need of assistance. A group of committed Team Europe volunteers made the journey to these remote areas, where government support cannot easily get through. At times they had to walk barefoot, balancing the food packages on their heads.
In all, 2,200 or so vulnerable households received packages. Beneficiaries included disabled people, women heads of household, widows, farmers and other households who have lost their livelihoods because of the pandemic. A number of local communities also received handwashing equipment. To make sure as many people as possible could benefit from the initiative, in a further gesture of solidarity some communities divided the packages among households.
One Nigerian lady who received a package expressed her appreciation of the initiative and thanked Team Europe for extending a “hand of fellowship”. “It’s the first time something like this has happened to us. We commend you for your wonderful support, especially at this time, during Ramadan.”
Fellowship and solidarity are at the heart of Team Europe’s global response to the pandemic. We must not leave anyone behind, because none of us is safe until everyone is safe. Accordingly, Team Europe has taken collective action to assist people in partner countries around the world who need a helping hand of fellowship during this unprecedented pandemic. As EU Ambassador to Nigeria Ketil Karlsen, who helped organise this latest initiative, put it, “We keep distance as people. But as societies, we come together.”
The EU has been working closely with the Nigerian authorities and other partners on swift and effective action to combat the pandemic. Earlier in April, the EU made a €50 million contribution to Nigeria’s national response, channelled through the UN COVID-19 Basket Fund. The EU has also helped UNICEF procure vital health supplies for infected people, while further containing the spread of the virus in the country. These supplies include testing kits, oxygen concentrators and personal protective equipment.