By Cecilia Ologunagba
The UN’s top humanitarian official in Nigeria, Mr Matthias Schmale, has said that severe hunger is affecting 4.3 million people in Nigeria’s Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.
Schmale told journalists in Geneva on Wednesday that the number of children under five at risk of life-threatening severe acute malnutrition had doubled in one year to reach 700,000.
Describing the situation in northeast Nigeria, Schmale said: “I have been to Borno and the other two states several times.
“I’ve seen mothers fighting for lives of their malnourished children in nutrition stabilisation centres.
“Those of us who are parents must imagine what it’s like when you cannot ensure your children have enough to eat,” he said.
According to him, the “catastrophic” situation is primarily the result of more than a decade of insecurity linked to non-State armed groups, which prevents people from farming and earning income from the land.
Another harmful factor is climate change and extreme weather impacts.
Last year saw the worst floods in 10 years in Nigeria, which affected more than 4.4 million people across the country, not just the north-east.
Soaring prices of food, fuel and fertilisers have exacerbated the crisis, and the response remains severely underfunded.
The UN official said that out of the $1.3 billion in humanitarian funding needed for the region, only 25 per cent has been secured so far.