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Starving to death: Boko Haram displaced facing food crisis
by Mercycorps, Unicef, MSF, Action against Hunger
11:20pm 1st Jul, 2016
July 2016
Starving to death: Boko Haram displaced facing food crisis. (Unicef, agencies)
A quarter of a million children in Borno state, north-eastern Nigeria, are suffering from severe malnutrition, the United Nations children’s agency today announced. Of those, about one in five will die if they do not receive treatment.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that as Boko Haram is pushed out and more of the north-east area is becoming accessible to humanitarian assistance, the extent of the nutrition crisis is becoming more apparent.
“Some 134 children on average will die every day from causes linked to acute malnutrition if the response is not scaled up quickly,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Regional Director for Western and Central Africa, who just returned from a visit to Borno state.
“We need donors to step forward to prevent any more children from dying. No one can take on a crisis of this scale alone.”
Mr. Fontaine described ruins of towns accommodating displaced people, families with little access to adequate sanitation, water or food, and thousands of frail children in desperate need of help.
“There are 2 million people we are still not able to reach in Borno state, which means that the true scope of this crisis has yet to be revealed to the world,” he stressed.
Around 3.8 million people are currently facing severe food insecurity across the Lake Chad Basin, where the lean season has now set in in many parts.
In early 2016, UNICEF appealed for urgent funding to respond to the humanitarian crisis in north-east Nigeria, but has so far only received $23 million, the equivalent of 41 per cent.
June 2016
Lake Chad: ''Not a day goes by without a child dying of malnutrition''
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says over 9 million people are in urgent need of aid in the Lake Chad region of Africa. More than 2.4 million people have fled their homes in four countries, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Nigeria because of the conflict between government forces and armed opposition, which has lasted six years.
The situation is now deteriorating further, especially in north-eastern Nigeria, and the ICRC is scaling up its humanitarian activities throughout the region.
"There is a critical shortage of food. We can barely imagine the scale of hunger in some areas where humanitarian aid has not yet reached. Children are suffering especially. Not a day goes by without a child dying of malnutrition," said the ICRC''s director of operations, Dominik Stillhart.
A string of attacks in Niger''s Diffa region during the last few days has led to around 50,000 people fleeing their homes. In north-eastern Nigeria, hundreds of displaced people are still arriving at different locations in search of shelter and food. In many cases, the evolving conflict across the region drives people to flee on multiple occasions, increasing hardship and making life extremely precarious. Most abandon their homes leaving everything behind, and lack the very basic necessities of life.
Since the beginning of the year, the ICRC and the local Red Cross Societies have distributed food to more than 300,000 displaced people and returnees in Nigeria, Cameroon and Niger, while 15,000 displaced people have received emergency shelter in Adamawa and Borno State in Nigeria. With access to health-care limited, ICRC surgical teams are supporting Diffa and Maiduguri hospitals. More than 800 patients, most of them war wounded, have received life-saving emergency treatment since January 2016.
With more and more people arrested due to the conflict, detention services are increasingly under strain. The ICRC visits detainees across the region to monitor treatment and conditions, which includes addressing cases of malnutrition.
"We are one of the few organizations present on the ground, with the capacity to act quickly. Our access to people affected by the conflict is growing, so we are reaching more and more people in desperate need. We have to provide more aid, especially food, otherwise more people will die," said Mr Stillhart.
June 2016 (AFP)
At least 10 people are "starving to death" every day in a camp in northeast Nigeria for people displaced by Boko Haram violence, highlighting warnings about a food crisis in the Lake Chad region.
Witnesses said the deaths were occurring in the town of Banki where they are based, some 130 kilometres (80 miles) southeast of the Borno state capital, Maiduguri.
"People are dying in large numbers in the camp every day from lack of food," people on the ground told AFP.
"They are starving to death on a daily basis. Between 10 and 11 people, including men, women and children, die daily since the IDP (internally displaced persons) camp was opened three months ago.
"As of yesterday we counted 376 graves in the Bulachira cemetery belonging to dead IDPs who died in the last three months.. At least 10 people are buried every day in the cemetery''.
"The whole camp is hunger-stricken. People are emaciated and starving to death. If nobody intervenes, a huge catastrophe is looming because these people can''t hold out."
The Borno state government and aid agencies have warned about acute food shortages in the Lake Chad region as a result of seven years of violence.
The United Nations said in May that 9.2 million people living around the lake, which forms the border of Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger, were in desperate need of food.
One Nigerian refugee in a camp in southeastern Niger told AFP last month: "I think that everyone has abandoned us." Another said it had been four months since they last received food aid.
Even at the Dalori camp outside Maiduguri, which houses about 20,000 people, IDPs say there is not enough to eat and children especially are always hungry.
"The food ration given to all the occupants of a room is so little that it can be consumed by this boy," Aisha Bala, 35, told AFP last month, pointing to a six-year-old next to her.
Ahmed Satomi, executive secretary of the Borno state emergency management agency, said they were "preparing to procure maize and rice that will last them (the IDPs) for the next 40 days" but said priority was being given to Bama, 60 kilometres away.
Boko Haram Islamist insurgency is one of the world''s most brutal conflicts: at least 20,000 people have been killed since it began in 2009 and more than 2.6 million others displaced.
Nigeria''s government has been encouraging IDPs to return home since the recapture of territory lost to the Islamist militants in 2014.
But most are still largely reliant on food hand-outs, with farmlands devastated, and homes and local infrastructure destroyed.
Some 6,500 children were found to be severely malnourished at camps in Borno state last year; with more than 25,000 others had "moderate symptoms", health officials said.
One soldier said troops had been giving two-thirds of their rations to the IDPs, who also lacked access to medical facilities and even basic medicine such as paracetamol.
"People have no food, they are just walking corpses," he said by telephone, adding he was watching another funeral procession as he spoke. Without the soldiers rations "only a few would have been alive by now", he added.
"These people fled their homes to escape death in the hands of Boko Haram terrorists but they are now slowly dying from starvation."

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