The World Food Program (WFP) has warned that it will be forced to cut food rations for half-a-million people suffering from acute hunger in Northeast Nigeria, unless it receives urgently needed funding.
Tomson Phiri, the UN World Food Programme spokesman, revealed that over one million children are already malnourished.
“We are facing very severe levels of hunger. This is probably the highest that we are witnessing since the crisis exploded in 2016. Approximately 4.4 million people are facing acute food insecurity in the conflict-affected states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe.”Tomson Phiri
The alert follows years of insecurity linked to non-State armed groups that have disrupted livelihoods and forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee in search of shelter.
Millions of people in Nigeria’s crisis-ridden Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states are suffering from years of conflict and insecurity and the socio-economic fallout from COVID-19 has worsened their plights.
Phiri further stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has raised food costs and reduced food supplies. He noted that the number of internally displaced people exceeded two million in the month of September.
Amidst the socio-economic fallout, high food prices, and limited food supply, WFP’s Regional Director for West Africa, Chris Nikoi, observed that they have no choice than to cut rations. Meanwhile, he explained that, “cutting rations means choosing who gets to eat and who goes to bed hungry”.
Nikoi further disclosed that the agency may have to cut rations to more than half a million women, men and children in Northeastern Nigeria by the end of the month, unless at least $55 million of new funding is found.
WFP’s Regional Director for West Africa warned, reminding that WFP’s food assistance is “a lifeline for millions whose lives have been upended by conflict and have almost nothing to survive on”.
“We are seeing funding for our life-saving humanitarian work dry up just at the time when hunger is at its most severe”.Tomson Phiri
Insecurity and conflict have plagued north-east Nigeria for almost 12 years, causing millions of people to feel the pain of hunger. COVID-19 has only exacerbated the situation, causing economic shocks that have affected families’ ability to access or purchase food. The UN and its humanitarian partners are working around the clock to ensure that families have enough food to survive.
For five years, WFP has been providing life-saving food and nutrition assistance to the severely food insecure, displaced families in camps, and to vulnerable people living in host communities.
This year, relying on the continued generosity of donor partners, WFP ramped up its response to address rising food insecurity and the impact of COVID-19, targeting 1.9 million displaced people in the country.
However, Regional Director Nikoi stated that to sustain humanitarian operations in northeast Nigeria until March 2022, WFP urgently needs $197 million.
“We must act now to save lives and avoid disruptions to this lifeline”.Nikoi
Edward Kallon, UN Humanitarian Coordinator based in Nigeria, called on partners to ‘step up’ support in response to the growing needs.
“Cutting food assistance will be a painful decision for humanitarians as it will negatively affect children, women and men uprooted from their homes due to continued violence”.Edward Kallon