The push on Boko Haram insurgency is opening areas formerly inaccessible and uncovering high levels of malnutrition, United Nations agencies report.
“Improving security has enabled humanitarians to access areas that were previously cut off. The conditions we are seeing there are devastating,” says acting UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Munir Safieldin.
“While the Nigerian Government and humanitarian organizations have stepped up relief assistance, the situation in these areas requires a much faster and wider response.”
The agency says as new areas become accessible, more people in urgent need of assistance are being found.
Recently accessed areas in Borno state include Bama, Damboa, Dikwa and Monguno.
However, many localities in Borno State remain inaccessible owing to the ongoing violence and insecurity, it added.
The United Nations Children’s Fund estimates up to 250,000 children aged under five suffering from severe acute malnutrition in Borno state alone this year.
“Unless we reach these children with treatment, one in five of them will die,” says UNICEF Nigeria Representative Jean Gough.
“We cannot allow that to happen.”
Insurgency and military actions in the north east have already displaced an estimated 2.4 million people, and pushed food insecurity and malnutrition to “emergency levels.”
This week the federal health ministry declared a nutrition emergency and called in the ECOWAS regional Centre for Disease Control to contain the situation.
More than 500,000 people need immediate food assistance, and most in need are either displaced by the conflict or members of the communities hosting the displaced.
“Additionally, the violence has badly disrupted food production, markets, driven up basic commodity prices and deprived entire populations of livelihoods,” according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
“Many communities are currently traversing the initial months of the lean season. At its peak in October, the number of those needing assistance is bound to rise.”
This week, the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) released US$13 million to provide immediate life-saving food, nutrition and protection assistance to 250,000 newly accessible people in the north-east.
But the UN and other humanitarian partners are urgently seeking additional donor funding of US$204 million for continued humanitarian response in the region.