A frightening picture was painted on Monday by the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF, which said some 250,000 children are “severely malnourished” in Borno State and are at “high risk of death”.
The scale of malnutrition crisis in the North-east state underscores the humanitarian repercussion of the Boko Haram insurgency.
“As more areas in the northeast become accessible to humanitarian assistance, the extent of the nutrition crisis affecting children is becoming even more apparent”, UNICEF said.
The Fund estimates the total number of children suffering severe acute malnutrition at 244,000 and says almost one in every five of them, amounting to 49,000, will die if treatment does not reach them quickly.
“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 all partners and donors to step forward to prevent any more children from dying. No one can take on a crisis of this scale alone”.
The children’s agency has appealed for $55.5 million early this year to respond to the humanitarian crisis in the north east, but has so far only received $23 million – that’s 41%.
It expects the appeal will increase significantly in the coming weeks as it gains access to new areas with vast humanitarian needs.
“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,” Fontaine said.
“There are organizations on the ground doing great work, but none of us are able to work at the scale and quality that we need. We must all scale up”.