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Famine victims in northeast to double in 2017

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 A young child suffering from severe malnutrition lies on a bed in the ICU ward at the In-Patient Therapeutic Feeding Centre in the Gwangwe district of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, northeastern Nigeria, on September 17, 2016. Aid agencies have long warned about the risk of food shortages in northeast Nigeria because of the conflict, which has killed at least 20,000 since 2009 and left more than 2.6 million homeless. In July, the United Nations said nearly 250,000 children under five could suffer from severe acute malnutrition this year in Borno state alone and one in five -- some 50,000 -- could die. But despite the huge numbers involved, the situation has received little attention compared with other humanitarian crises around the world -- even within Nigeria. / AFP / STEFAN HEUNIS (Photo credit should read STEFAN HEUNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

A young child suffering from severe malnutrition lies on a bed in the ICU ward at the In-Patient Therapeutic Feeding Centre in the Gwangwe district of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, northeastern Nigeria, on September 17, 2016. PHOTO: STEFAN HEUNIS/AFP/Getty Images

Nigeria’s northeastern state of Borno faces an elevated risk of famine, with the number of people affected forecast to roughly double to 115,000 in 2017, according to a food-monitoring agency.

A famine probably occurred between April and August in remote parts of Borno with limited access to food and health services, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, developed by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, said in a statement on its website Friday.

“There is an elevated likelihood that famine is ongoing and will continue in the inaccessible areas,” the body known as IPC said in the statement. “The main factor contributing to the widespread food insecurity is the persistence of conflict, which has resulted in mass displacements.”

Severe food insecurity has also been driven by below-average crop production, disrupted livelihoods and the financial crisis linked to the depreciation of the naira, the agency said.

Borno is the epicenter of Islamist group Boko Haram’s insurgency, which has killed an estimated 20,000 people and displaced 2.4 million since 2009. The crash in oil prices since 2014 has put Nigeria on the brink of its first full-year contraction in more than two decades, while the naira has plummeted almost 40 percent against the dollar this year.

The IPC said humanitarian workers have helped improve access to food and called on the Nigerian government to “step-up its efforts in providing secure access for aid organizations in the affected zones.”


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