Tens of thousands of children in northeast Nigeria will die of malnutrition this year unless they receive treatment soon, the United Nations today warned after reaching areas in the north-east of the country which had been cut off by Boko Haram violence.
“We estimate that there will be almost a quarter of a million children under five suffering from severe acute malnutrition in Borno this year,” said Jean Gough, Nigeria Representative of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
“Unless we reach these children with treatment, one in five of them will die. We cannot allow that to happen,” Ms. Gough added.
The Nigerian Government announced earlier this week that the conflict in north-eastern Nigeria has already displaced 2.4 million people and pushed food insecurity and malnutrition to emergency levels with more than half a million people requiring immediate food assistance.
The disruption of food production due to the violence, increased prices of basic commodities and given that the period also coincides with the initial months of the lean season, it is feared that the number of those in need of assistance will rise further.
UN agencies and partners are responding to the situation and providing health and nutrition, safe water, household and other relief support.
“Improving security has enabled humanitarians to access areas that were previously cut off. The conditions we are seeing there are devastating,” said the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Munir Safieldin.
“While the government and humanitarian organizations have stepped up relief assistance, the situation in these areas requires a much faster and wider response.”
On 27 June, UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) that supports rapid humanitarian responses, released $13 million to provide immediate life-saving food, nutrition and protection assistance to those in need in north-east Nigeria.