North East armed conflict drives millions into hunger, says WFP
Shops for $190m to scale up intervention
United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has raised concern that the lingering armed conflict in the North East is driving hunger and malnutrition, with millions of people in need of life-saving assistance and facing the risk of famine.
This is just as the body scaled up efforts to provide emergency food and nutrition assistance to 2.1 million people affected by conflict and in dire need of humanitarian assistance.
The UN body, in a statement signed by Chi Lael, noted that the March Cadre Harmonisé projected that 4.3 million people in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states may face severe hunger during the peak of the lean season between June and August 2023.
The statement noted that almost 600,000 people were on the brink of catastrophe, warning that the people would face emergency levels of food insecurity, with extremely high rates of acute malnutrition and mortality in the absence of a sustained scale-up of humanitarian assistance.
According to WPF, $190 million is required, over the next six months, to provide life-saving food and nutrition assistance to the most vulnerable people, adding that if urgent action is not taken to close the funding gaps, approximately four million people in the North East will go without food assistance at the peak of the lean season.
Ongoing conflict, is said, has affected the nutrition status of children on several fronts, as two million children in the region are projected to suffer from acute malnutrition, with cases of severe acute malnutrition among children quadrupled to 700,000.
The statement reads: “The more people in need of urgent food assistance go unassisted, the greater the risk of starvation and death among the most vulnerable, and the more people will be forced to resort to coping mechanisms such as survival sex, selling possessions and child labour.
“Lack of assistance also increases the risk of youth recruitment into armed groups, as well as displaced populations returning to inaccessible areas, where they are beyond the reach of humanitarian assistance and other social services.”
It further lamented that the chronic insecurity in the region was preventing many people from growing the food they need or earning an income, saying conflict left households unable to leave their homes due to movement restrictions, killings and abduction of civilians, particularly in Borno, where the violence is concentrated.
It pointed out that the hunger crisis worsened an already bad situation for many families struggling with economic hardship, surging inflation, impact of Russia-Ukraine war, the currency redesign policy, slow post-COVID-19 recovery and unprecedented floods in 2022, which limited agricultural production and overall food availability.