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In Borno State, Boko Haram Victims Face Humanitarian Catastrophe

A boy suffering from severe acute malnutrition sits at one of the UNICEF nutrition clinics, in the Muna informal settlement, which houses nearly 16,000 IDPs (internally displaced people) in the outskirts of Maiduguri capital of Borno State, northeastern Nigeria.

The charity, Doctors Without Borders warns more than one-half million people in Borno State, northeastern Nigeria are facing a large-scale humanitarian disaster and are in need of urgent emergency assistance.

The 15,000 people in the Nigerian town of Banki are isolated, cut off from the rest of the world and totally dependent on international aid, according to the Head of emergencies for Doctors Without Borders, Hughes Robert.

He says most of these people have been in hiding for more than one year because of the dangers posed by Boko Haram near the border with Cameroon.

“When we visited houses or when we were moving around there was really absolutely no food stock available in the households ... For example, there was one family, inside a cooking pot, they were cooking some dry skin from goats, cutting it in pieces, trying to put it with water, cook it to feed the family ,” said Robert. "So, really a situation of complete destitution.”

Months of food shortages have resulted in a catastrophic health situation with very high levels of malnutrition. Children under age five are at greatest risk.

FILE - Internally displaced persons wait to be served with food at Dikwa camp, in northeast Nigeria's Borno state, Feb. 2, 2016.
FILE - Internally displaced persons wait to be served with food at Dikwa camp, in northeast Nigeria's Borno state, Feb. 2, 2016.

Doctors Without Borders General Director Bruno Jochum, says 15 percent of children screened are suffering from severe acute malnutrition. This is eight times higher than the emergency threshold.

“In terms of medical and epidemiological indicators the worst situation we are facing today in the world ... In the last six months, there has probably been one person out of 12 which has died in Banki. So, when you relate this to a population of 15,000, you are talking probably more than 1,000 deaths,” said Jochum.

The medical team says the situation in Banki is similar to that found by the Nigerian authorities and other aid organizations in different parts of Borno State.

Doctors Without Borders is calling on the United Nations and international organizations to provide immediate emergency food and medical aid to these hapless victims of Boko Haram.