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UN: Forgotten Victims of Boko Haram in Desperate Need of Aid

FILE - People who fled their homes due to violence from the Islamic extremists group Boko Haram are seen inside a refugee camp in Minawao, Cameroon, Feb. 25, 2015.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is appealing for $175 million to provide life-saving assistance to more than one-quarter million largely forgotten victims of the radical Islamic group Boko Haram.

The Boko Haram insurgency, which began in northeast Nigeria in 2009, has displaced more than two million people inside the country. It also has sent hundreds of thousands of people fleeing for their lives to neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon since 2013.

Nigerian military forces have recaptured much of the territory taken by Boko Haram, and their progress has largely diverted world attention away from the crisis. While it no longer makes headline news, U.N. refugee spokesman Babar Balloch told VOA the Boko Haram insurgency continues to displace people, negatively affecting their lives.

“So, we are trying to remind the world that there are still hundreds of thousands of people who are displaced by it, affected by it, especially women and children. Let us not forget the whole [Boko Haram] movement is against education. So, many schools are being affected and also it has a devastating impact on the whole community where this group is operating,” Balloch said.

The Lake Chad Basin is one of the poorest and most forgotten regions in the world. The UNHCR says one of the most devastating side effects of the Boko Haram conflict is the alarming rise in food insecurity, which affects more than 7.2 million people. This, it says, has sent malnutrition levels soaring.

The agency says Nigerian refugees continue to flee to very remote and impoverished communities where they live in dire conditions.

The appeal aims to provide emergency food, shelter, health care, education and water and sanitation to more than 200,000 Nigerian refugees and to 75,000 residents in the communities hosting them.