Humanitarian Crisis in North-East Nigeria Needs $396m Urgently –UN

By Starrys Obazei | May 19, 2023.

The United Nations has said $396 million was urgently needed to rescue a  humanitarian crisis in the North East region of the country.

The UN lamented that humanitarian partners will only reach about 300,000 of the 4.3 million at-risk people in need of food assistance in the North East if nothing was urgently done to address the situation.

The United Nations Office Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, after the launch of the Lean Season Food Security and Nutrition Crisis Multi-sector Plan 2023, in a statement, said: “To prevent a widespread hunger and malnutrition crisis in North-east Nigeria from turning fully catastrophic $396 million is urgently needed to scale up humanitarian action in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, BAY, states.

“More than half a million people may face emergency levels of food insecurity, with extremely high rates of acute malnutrition and cases of mortality if there is no rapid and significant scale-up of humanitarian assistance.

It estimated two million children under five in the three states are likely to face wasting this year.

UN noted: “This is the most immediate and life-threatening form of malnutrition. 

Some 700,000 children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition – meaning that they are 11 times more likely to die compared to well-nourished children.

“They need immediate action to survive.

“The deepening food crisis and worrying malnutrition levels are the result of years of protracted conflict and insecurity which continue to prevent more than two million people from returning home.

“A combination of fuel and food inflation, a naira cash crisis earlier in the year, and climate shocks (such as the record floods in Nigeria in 2022) are among factors that have worsened the crisis.”

The Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Mr. Matthias Schmale, stated that the situation should not be faced by anyone, lamenting that this may become the unfortunate reality for millions of food-insecure people in the BAY states unless resources and funding are urgently mobilized.

Schmale was quoted to have said, “I have seen firsthand the anguish of mothers fighting for the lives of their malnourished infants in our partner-run stabilization centers. This is a situation no one should have to face.

“I have spoken with children who described going for days without eating enough. Mothers who said their children go to bed crying from hunger. Families struggling to feed their families as they have gone for months without receiving food assistance.”

The statement revealed that the World Food Programme is scaling up its operations to assist 2.1 million people with emergency food and nutrition supplies, noting that the United Nations Children’s Fund and nutrition partners aim to provide life-saving nutrition services to over one million malnourished children, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women with the Food and Agriculture Organization planning to reach two million people with seed packages to secure cereal production for the upcoming harvest.

The Country Representative of UNICEF in Nigeria, Ms. Cristian Munduate, called for concerted efforts to protect children. 

Munduate said, “We have the power to make a difference in the lives of these children. With your support, we can prevent more children from suffering from malnutrition and give them a chance at a healthy and happy future.”

And to kick start the response to the food security and nutrition crisis in North-east Nigeria, the UN has released a combined $18 million.

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mr. Martin Griffiths, has allocated $9 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund, and Humanitarian Coordinator Schmale will be disbursing a further $9 million from the Nigeria Humanitarian Fund.

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