Latest assessments by 15 humanitarian organisations have revealeded that the ongoing conflict with Boko Haram in West Africa has pushed the number of people facing the threat of severe hunger to more than 6 million, with 4.4 million Nigerians food insecure. The warning came as governments and donors met to talk about the humanitarian crisis…

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Latest assessments by 15 humanitarian organisations have revealeded that the ongoing conflict with Boko Haram in West Africa has pushed the number of people facing the threat of severe hunger to more than 6 million, with 4.4 million Nigerians food insecure.

The warning came as governments and donors met to talk about the humanitarian crisis in the Lake Chad Basin region at the UN General Assembly in New York on Friday, September 23.

The assessment revealed that “Over 65,000 people are already living in famine in pockets of northeast Nigeria, and over one million people are one step away from famine.

“In the countries of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon, 6.3 million people are severely food insecure. Of these, 4.4 million people are in Nigeria,” it said.

The revised UN appeal is calling for US$559 million until the end of the year to meet the emergency needs caused by the crisis.

Organisations say that without more money, they are unable to reach the most vulnerable people even in areas that can be accessed.

Nigeria’s Country Director, Action Against Hunger, Yannick Pouchalan said  “What we are seeing is families teetering on the edge of famine. If organisations can’t reach communities in areas trapped by the conflict, we will be looking at a far greater disaster than we are currently facing.

“Many of those arriving in camps are already severely malnourished. We see families who have not eaten for days, many are begging for food. If the situation continues to deteriorate, many more people may die.”

He added that “In some areas of Borno State, the rate of acute malnutrition in children under five is over 50 per cent, similar to what was seen during the 2011 crisis in Somalia when the scale and severity of hunger led to a declaration of famine”

Pouchalan noted that, “The conflict, and military operations to counter it, has meant that farmland, rivers and lakes that people rely on for growing food and fishing are off limits as part of military operations in Nigeria, Niger and Chad.  Markets have been closed, and people’s means of transport, such as motorbikes, have been banned, cutting people off from their ways of making a living.”

Also speaking, Oxfam’s Lake Chad Basin’s Operational Lead, Lisa Bay, said: “Civilians have paid a high price for policies of cutting off Boko Haram’s food and supplies”

She noted that “People should be able to fish, farm and sell their goods at markets. We have seen hugely generous communities welcome people who have fled their homes – but now they have nothing to give. They too are hungry and need access to aid.”

The statement revealed that 15 organisations in Nigeria are looking for over US$143 million until the end of the year to provide life-saving support such as food, water, shelter and safety, but are struggling to secure the funding and scale up their activities.

IRC’s Nigeria Country Director, Sarah Ndikuman said “We have received little over US$53 million, but there is a funding gap of nearly US$90 million.

“Without money, we simply can’t reach the people who need it the most with aid. The situation is critical with many lives hanging in the balance. We urge donors to dig deep to stop this crisis turning into a huge catastrophe. We cannot stand-by and watch thousands of people suffer and die when we can do something about it.”

Vice president, Catholic Relief Services’ Humanitarian Response Department, Jennifer Poidatz, said, “We need to learn from other protracted crises in the world, where short-term solutions simply don’t allow people who have fled from their homes to go back to their lives.

“Only robust funding over multiple years, of both international organisations and local and national organisations on the ground, will ensure that we can adequately respond. We also need political leadership and action to address the root causes of the violence.”

She noted that as a result of the conflict, there have been alarming levels of sexual violence, human rights abuses and forced recruitment, even of young children while the security situation remains fragile.

She added that violence continues, making it difficult for the agencies to get assistance to all the people who need it.

According to the Integrated Food Security Classification Phase (IPC), 65,069 people in pockets of North East Nigeria are in IPC Level 5 and already experiencing famine.

Of these, the vast majority(58,506) are in Borno State and the rest are in Yobe state. Another 1 million are in IPC level 4, or one step away from famine.

Source:Nigerian News from Leadership News