Nigerian and U.N. officials say they can prevent the humanitarian crisis gripping northeast Nigeria from spinning out of control if the international community responds quickly to their plea for support.
As part of its multi-billion dollar humanitarian appeal for 2017, the United Nations is asking for more than $1 billion to meet the needs of nearly seven million victims of the Boko Haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria.
This is more than double the 2016 appeal.
Nigerian National Planning and Budget Minister of State Zainab Ahmed says the request for more money is due to the military’s success in recovering communities that had been held by the militants.
“But the paradox of the success is as these areas are recovered, we now are exposed to people that are in a very, very fragile state. So, the numbers keep changing as more communities are recovered,” Ahmed said.
The humanitarian operation will focus on the three most affected states - Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. The United Nations is scaling up its aid operations as the magnitude of the human suffering becomes apparent.
U.N. Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator Peter Lundberg says the protection crisis under Boko Haram is rapidly turning into a food insecurity and nutrition crisis.
“We have an opportunity to address the needs if we do them now, and if we get adequate resources to do it now we can actually stop something quite terrible from happening, and we want to avoid that at any cost,” Lundberg said.
Lundberg added that there is no time to lose as many lives are at stake, with children particularly vulnerable. He said the U.N. Children’s Fund warns the lives of many of the 400,000 severely malnourished children are at risk if they do not urgently receive desperately needed therapeutic feeding.