The northeastern portion of Nigeria has suffered tremendous drought and has been under political control of Boko Haram, threatening the lives of 75,000 children unless someone intervenes, a report from UNICEF said today. While other countries have offered aid to those starving and dying in the famine, Boko Haram controls what food reaches the indigenous people of that area of the African country, including the three states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa, who have been hit the hardest with lack of rain and political instability, a situation which is resulting in a major humanitarian crisis. Arjan de Wagt, nutrition chief for UNICEF, asserts that no other place in the world has been this emergently impacted by a starvation situation. He says, simply, that tens of thousands of children will die if no help is received, according to Vibe. UNICEF spokesperson Christina Corbett said the little food that is received in this area is far from nutritious.
“Many families are only able to eat once every few days and usually only watered-down porridge. They are going to bed hungry and waking up with no way to change that.”
Arjan de Wagt, nutrition chief for UNICEF in Nigeria, explains that in cases of malnutrition, children usually die of secondary infections like diarrhea or respiratory infections because their bodies are so poorly nourished that they can’t fight off infections that children normally would be able to. However, in Nigeria, child are actually dying of starvation — a lengthy and painful process.
“But with famine, you actually die of hunger, and that is what is happening. Globally, you just don’t see this. You have to go back to places like Somalia five years ago to see these kinds of levels.”
It has already happened to children in pockets of Nigeria, but the outlook for it to be far more widespread looms as an inevitable situation, unless there is some type of major intervention, according to NBC. In Somalia, over 200,00 people perished due to famine between the years of 2010 and 2012, due to drought, politics, and the ravages of war.
UNICEF has appealed for $115 million to be brought to the aid of the starving people, but only $24 million has been raised thus far. Most of the starving are farmers who were displaced when Boko Haram invaded their territories, and they have been unable to plant or harvest for two years now. Boko Haram is a militant insurgent group that has kidnapped girls and impregnated them as a war tactic, and their onslaught now extends to hundreds of thousands of people who are going hungry without proper sanitation, housing, or means to grow food.
Doctors Without Borders says the situation has reached “catastrophic levels” and that the people of Nigeria are entirely dependent on outside aid at this point to sustain their lives — and there is not enough aid coming in. Time is of the essence, and for many, it is already too late, as their bodies begin to shut down due to organ failure from starvation. Children are hit hardest because their metabolism needs the most nourishment in order to grow, but others, including pregnant women and the elderly, cannot withstand such malnourishment for extended periods, either.
UNICEF is in a difficult position to deliver the aid that is available, as the reign of Boko Haram makes their efforts treacherous for workers. They have been completely unable to reach some areas with heavy Boko Haram presence, and have stopped attempts to reach certain areas after their humanitarian aid convoy was attacked by Boko Haram in July, and a UNICEF worker was injured when a rocket hit their armored car.
[Featured Image By Sunday Alamba/AP]