The United Nations has lamented the lack of funding for many indigent and deprived persons affected by the protracted Boko Haram crisis in the Northeast.
A statement on Friday by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA) read that in 2023, aid agencies have received only eight per cent of the US$ 1.3 billion required to reach 6 million people identified for emergency assistance in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.
The Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Matthias Schmale, in the statement, said: “I urge donors, the private sector, and other well-wishers to urgently provide additional funding and resources to enable national and international humanitarian organisations working with government to act early and at scale to deliver assistance to save lives, improve living conditions and protect those most in need ahead of the lean season.”
Schmale said: “I am alarmed by the impact that continued conflict is having on vulnerable people, in particular on children, in north-east Nigeria.
“Yesterday, I visited El-Miskin Camp in Maiduguri, Borno State, where approximately 7,200 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have sought safety. The food situation is severe for many families in the camp due to lack of funding for operations. Women told me that they had not received food assistance in more than three months and they are struggling to feed their families.
“Some children described going for several days without eating enough. Mothers were telling me that their children go to bed crying from hunger. In the Outpatient Therapeutic Feeding Program, they were also telling me that they are already seeing dozens of admissions of children with acute malnutrition. This is unacceptable.”
He noted that: “The people I met in El-Miskin are among an estimated 4.4 million people who will need sustained emergency food assistance this lean season (the peak hunger period between planting and harvesting from June to August) in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe States, according to the October 2022 Cadre Harmonisé food and nutrition analysis.
“Partners I met with are ringing the alarm bells, months ahead of the lean season as worryingly malnutrition figures are starting to increase. Severe acute malnutrition is expected to double compared to last year, affecting some 690,000 children. Government and the humanitarian community must redouble efforts to prevent this from happening.
“Financial resources are needed now to take the necessary action to save their lives. Without assistance, cases of life threatening severe acute malnutrition will increase, and more people will resort to negative coping mechanisms such as begging, survival sex and child labour to survive.”
Schmale said: “In El-Miskin Camp, I was also saddened to see so many children out of school. Over 4,000 school-age children in the camp have not been able to go to school in years. Only one of the 17 women I met in the camp could read or write. We must not let this generation, a generation affected by war and deprivation, be a lost generation. The children I met wanted to be doctors and teachers, jobs that Nigeria urgently needs to fill and bring stability and prosperity to the north-east. We must strengthen our efforts to support the authorities in providing all children with access to education. They will otherwise be deprived of a better future and will never be able to realise their potential, their dreams and aspirations.”