The United Nations warns that tens of thousands of children will die in northeastern Nigeria over the next year if international donors don’t rush to help them. The UN warned on Thursday that malnutrition and famine-like conditions would imminently cause the deaths of as many as 75,000 children in the West African country.
Most severely malnourished children die of secondary illnesses such as respiratory infections, “but with famine, you actually die of hunger” and that is what is happening, said Arjan de Wagt, the nutrition chief for the UN International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Nigeria. The severity of malnutrition levels among a huge number of Nigerian children is so high that it has put them at the risk of death, the UN official said.
He added that the rate of malnutrition among children in some regions of northeastern Nigeria was approximately 20, 30 and even 50 percent. De Wagt said the current humanitarian crisis in the area was perhaps the worst in the world, warning that “lives are literally hanging by a thread.” UNICEF announced on Thursday that $115 million was needed to save the Nigerian children, noting that only $24 million had been raised so far.
UNICEF spokeswoman Doune Porter said the lack of money means some 750,000 people living in accessible areas could not be helped this year. Northeastern Nigeria has been the scene of incessant violence since 2009 when Boko Haram Takfiri terrorist group launched its militancy, with the aim of toppling the central government in the African country.
The violence sparked by the group’s militancy has so far killed more than 20,000 people and forced over 2.7 million others from their homes. Most of the estimated 2.7 million people who fled Boko Haram’s militancy are subsistence farmers who have been unable to plant for two years or more. Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to the Daesh Takfiri terrorists operating mainly in Syria and Iraq.