After assessing areas of the country previously cut off from foreign assistance by Boko Haram, the U.N. released a statement on July 1, declaring that 50,000 children in northern Nigeria stand to die from undernourishment and hunger in Nigeria if left untreated.
“Unless we reach these children with treatment, one in five of them will die. We cannot allow that to happen,” stated Jean Gough, Nigeria Representative of UNICEF.
Over the past year, the Nigerian army, with the help of troops from neighboring countries, fought to reclaim territories in the north taken by Boko Haram. The struggle resulted in the displacement of 2.4 million people in Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon, making food insecurity and malnutrition an emergent issue in these countries.
The violence in northern Nigeria greatly disturbed the supply of food to markets, increasing the cost of basic commodities. However, the recapturing of northern territories allowed humanitarian agencies like MSF to provide aid in the form of medical services and health supplies to the most vulnerable residents of these areas.
In addition, on June 27, the U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund allocated $13 million to provide immediate life-saving aid to northern Nigeria. Funds will be used to provide food, money for purchasing food, nutritional supplements, and seed and tools for the forthcoming planting season.
Unfortunately, this is only a portion of what needs to be done to end hunger in Nigeria. Conflict between the militant group and the Nigerian army is still ongoing, and the afflicted areas need more rapid assistance.
“While the government and humanitarian organizations have stepped up relief assistance, the situation in these areas requires a much faster and wider response,” said the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Munir Safieldin.
Hopefully increased efforts from international organizations will continue to assist reducing malnutrition and the under-five mortality rate in the country.
– Ugochi Ihenatu