UN: 4.1 Million in North-east Nigeria at Risk of Starvation

Michael Olugbode

The United Nations (UN) has raised an alarm that 4.1 million people in the north-eastern Nigeria are at severe risk of severe food insecurity and starvation.

According to the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Mr. Matthias Schmale to avert this $351 million was required, which he said was part of the overall request of $1.1 billion for the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan, that is severely under-funded at 19.6 per cent.

Schmale while briefing Member States of the UN in Geneva, Switzerland, yesterday, on the needs, challenges and windows of opportunity in the north-east said: “I cannot emphasise enough, we need the resources today and not tomorrow.”

He said as north-east Nigeria continues to face an unrelenting humanitarian crisis, 4.1 million people in region were at risk of severe food insecurity this season, noting that people in that region are already vulnerable after struggling through 12 years of conflict.

He added that in 2022, 8.4 million people would need humanitarian assistance across Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, while describing the deteriorating food security and nutrition situation as an issue that requires immediate support.

He said: “This food insecurity is felt painfully across the region, especially as operations are so desperately in need of funding. In Yobe State, families have not received food assistance for up to eight months. Some people are left without food for days not knowing where their next meal will come from.”

According to him, the March 2022 Cadre Harmonisé, a tool used to identify areas at risk from food insecurity and malnutrition in the Sahel and West Africa, projected that between June and September, 4.1 million people would be food insecure.

Among them, almost 600,000 people were projected to be at emergency levels (Phase 4), which was characterised by large food consumption gaps reflected in very high acute malnutrition and excess mortality.

He noted that this high-risk period, the lean season, overlaps with the rainy season, a time when children are left vulnerable from disease outbreaks, with weakened resistance if malnourished, disclosing that malnutrition among children grows increasingly dangerous in the north-east.

He said approximately, 1.74 million children under five were estimated to suffer from acute malnutrition across the north-east in 2022, and of these, over 300,000 were estimated to suffer from severe acute malnutrition and are at high risk of death if they do not receive urgent treatment.

He, however, said a multi-sector response plan had been put in place by the UN and humanitarian partners to provide life-saving aid and prevent a potentially catastrophic food and nutrition situation, stating that the plan required $351 million, and was part of the overall request of $1.1 billion for the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan, which is severely under-funded at 19.6 per cent.

He revealed that the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan aims to assist 5.5 million people in need, describing it as a two-track process, where, “the bulk of interventions focus on emergency assistance, but at same time our approach aims to lift people out of vulnerable situations and reduce humanitarian need by increasingly focusing on durable solutions and building resilience where possible.”

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