Hundreds of thousands of children in north-eastern Nigeria are facing starvation because of the ravages of the terror group Boko Haram. Many will die if they are not helped soon, according to aid agencies on the ground.
The severe malnutrition among the children is a result of the seven-year campaign of terror by the Islamist group. More than 20,000 people have been murdered and more than two million displaced.
The crisis is particularly acute in Borno State, but other neighbouring states like Adamawa and Yobe are also affected by the crisis.
”I met a child today who came to our clinic, looking very thin and definitely showing signs of hunger. His parents don’t live in our camp, but they brought him here for health checks,” Father Maurice Kweirang, of St Theresa Catholic Church’s displaced person’s camp in Yola in Adamawa State, told World Watch Monitor.
“There are many of them in such a situation. They live in host communities but are facing malnutrition, mostly unnoticed. Nobody takes care of them even though they are here in large numbers. They refuse to go back to their homes and villages, because those who went back are starving now.”
According to UNICEF, nearly a quarter of a million children in parts of Borno state alone, formerly controlled by Boko Haram, suffer from severe malnutrition. In many areas taken back from Boko Haram by the Nigerian Army, UNICEF found people without water, food or sanitation.
Last month, Doctors Without Borders found as many as six people were dying daily from disease and malnutrition at a displaced people’s camp in Bama, Borno where 4.5 million people are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance.
In Yobe 3.2 million people are estimated to be in need, while in Adamawa 900,000 people short of food.
Father Maurice warned that the food is running out and appealed for more help. “So far we are able to provide three sparse meals and other things to them, but the Church has reached its limits and we may probably run out of food in the next four months. If help does not come, we will not be able to feed these people.”