The United Nations humanitarian agency fighting hunger has begun transporting food assistance to Nigeria's crisis-hit north-east, where people – displaced by Boko Haram violence and the fight against it – face the threat of famine.
The World Food Programme (WFP) has already begun moving the first batch of rice donated by the Government of Nigeria, which contributed 5,000 metric tons of rice and pledged a further 2,000 metric tons of millet.
“This donation once again testifies to the quality of relations between WFP and Nigeria,” said Ronald Sibanda, WFP's interim Country Director, in a news release, noting that the assistance will help feed nearly half a million internally displaced people in the country's conflict-ravaged north-east.
The United States will cover the associated costs of getting the donated rice to those displaced in the hardest-hit states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, as part of its $100 million contribution to WFP's Nigeria response.
Nigeria's crisis has spilled over borders, leaving millions in the broader Lake Chad Basin region uncertain of where their meal is coming from. Experts have warned that without sufficient and timely humanitarian assistance, north-east Nigeria risks tipping into famine.
Since launching operations last year, WFP has rapidly expanded its offer of food, nutrition and cash to reach more than a million people a month. Having overcome a funding challenge, it has set its target at 1.36 million people during the current pre-harvest lean season, the hungriest time of the year.