The United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF, said on Thursday it was in urgent need of $115 million to assist an additional 750, 000 people, including 400, 000 children now facing starvation in Nigeria’s northeast where Boko Haram has wreaked havoc since 2009.
The terrorists, who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in March last year, have killed more than 25, 000 people in Nigeria alone, displaced over two million, kidnapped thousands, including the Chibok girls who have now been in captivity for close to 900 days.
They have also expanded their atrocities to neigbhouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger and have sent hundreds of thousands of people there away from their farms and other means of livelihoods.
UNICEF in its latest plea on Thursday said the 400 thousand affected children are under five and will likely suffer from ‘severe acute malnutrition’ in three states across the northeastern part of Nigeria this year if the money is not quickly made available.
At least four million people are facing severe food shortages and 65,000 people are living in famine-like conditions, mostly in Borno, the worst affected state in the seven-year insurgency.
“Children’s lives are literally hanging by a thread,” said Afshan Khan, UNICEF’s Director of Emergency Programmes.
“We are reaching new areas to provide critical humanitarian assistance but we need greater international support to further scale up and reach all children in dire need,” she added.
With the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari pushing back the terrorists and regaining territories from them, their atrocities are only becoming clearer by the day, with millions of people in dire condition.
UNICEF said the destruction of whole towns and villages further complicates the humanitarian response.
Sixty percent of health clinics have been partially or completely destroyed and 75 percent of water and sanitation facilities require rehabilitation in Borno state.
Nearly one million children are now displaced across the northeast, a million are out of school and hundreds of thousands psychologically affected from the horrors they have lived through, according to UNICEF.
These figures may not include hundreds of thousands of Nigerians who have fled to Cameroon. Last year, Mr. Simon Ateba, the Publisher of The Simon Ateba News, was arrested at the Minawao camp and accused of being of Boko Haram spy when in reality he was investigating the living conditions of Nigerian refugees in Cameroon and Chad.
At least 60, 000 Nigerians, in just one camp in Cameroon’s far north, are also in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.