The World Food Program has warned that it will be forced to cut food rations for half a million people suffering from acute hunger in northeastern Nigeria unless it receives the urgently needed funding.
Millions of people in Nigeria’s beleaguered Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states are suffering from years of conflict and insecurity and the socio-economic fallout from COVID-19.
The WFP says that 4.4 million people are facing acute hunger. It warns it will have to begin cutting food rations for half a million men, women and children in a matter of weeks, unless it receives an immediate infusion of $55 million.
WFP spokesman Tomson Phiri says hunger is now at its peak as the country emerges from a so-called lean season. This is the period between June and August when food stocks are at their lowest.
They say attacks by armed groups are increasing insecurity in the region and discouraging people from working on their land.
“The states of the north are largely agricultural. They depend on agriculture to survive and when you have insecurities, they are unable to farm. They are unable to take care of the animals. And it is like fueling a situation of food insecurity,” he said.
Phiri said WFP is providing food aid to 1.9 million Nigerians. He said 800,000 of them are facing food emergency levels that are just one step away from famine.
“Though the famine is not confirmed, the suffering of the people is immense. We as the World Food Program are concerned because more than a million children in the Northeast are malnourished and … too many people are displaced. These are the people who have been displaced many times. So, people are really, really knocking on the door of starvation,” Phiri said.
To sustain its humanitarian life-saving operations in northeastern Nigeria until March, the WFP urgently needs $197 million. So far, WFP officials say they’ve only received $6 million.