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Nigeria: Food crisis in North-east

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The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has warned that at least 4.1 million people in Nigeria In the Northeast region are at risk of experiencing “extreme suffering” as a result of a food and nutrition crisis.

According to the humanitarian organization, this figure represents around 51.19 percent of the total population of 8.4 million people in need of assistance in the terrorism-ravaged region.

According to statements and excerpts sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday by a spokesperson to the Public Information Officer, OCHA Nigeria, Christina Powell, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Nigeria, Matthias Schmale, said this last Friday in Abuja at an advocacy event on behalf of the food security and nutrition task force in North-east Nigeria.

“Today, 8.4 million people in north-east Nigeria require humanitarian aid. Alarmingly, nearly half of those affected by the crisis — 4.1 million people — are anticipated to suffer acute food insecurity throughout the upcoming lean season,” Mr. Schmale said.

“In 2021, there was a 1.8 million gap between those in need and those receiving food and nutrition assistance. Due to cutbacks in funding, that number is expected to skyrocket to 2.9 million this lean season.

“Unless resources are mobilized quickly, nearly three million people in desperate need of food and nutrition assistance would go hungry.”

For more than a decade, dangerous groups such as Boko Haram and the Islamic State’s West Africa Province have targeted the northeast (ISWAP). The region’s conflict has wreaked havoc on agricultural productivity and other livelihoods, disrupting essential services and increasing the number of displaced people.

According to UN data, around 8.4 million people in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe (BAY) states would require humanitarian assistance in 2022.

Children’s malnutrition
Malnutrition is jeopardizing the lives of 1.74 million youngsters in the region, according to the humanitarian coordinator.

He pointed out that Borno and Yobe states had had the greatest levels of violence since 2016.

Mr. Schmale estimates that humanitarian relief to communities in Nigeria’s northeast will cost up to $351 million.

‘This multi-sector plan requires $351 million in funding and is part of a $1.1 billion request for the 2022 humanitarian response plan,’ he said.

“Without food aid, desperation may drive the most vulnerable people to engage in transactional sex, child labor, and the sale of their meager belongings.”

“I’ve heard accounts of people in the northeast eating grass to keep alive during last year’s lean season, and I fear a repeat of this catastrophe if we don’t act swiftly,” Mr. Schmale added.

The scenario of armed bandits and kidnapping in the North-western and North-central regions, according to the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ernest Umakhihe, is a critical driver and limiting factor that has damaged food security in the country.

“Some important drivers and limiting variables that influenced food security in Nigeria’s country circumstances include the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as insecurity; particularly insurgency in the North-east, armed banditry, and abduction in the North-west and North Central states,” he stated.

Catriona Laing, the United Kingdom’s high commissioner to Nigeria, spoke on her country’s commitment to providing humanitarian relief to Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin.

“I am here not only on behalf of the United Kingdom but also as the charity northeast ambassador, one of 14 ambassadors who are particularly involved in the awful challenges not only in Nigeria’s northeast but also in the Lake Chad basin as a whole.”

“A crucial component remains the life-saving humanitarian crisis. To increase food security and nutrition, we need to take immediate action on investment.

“Because of the intricacy of this problem, the risk of not acting is considerably higher; if we don’t act, we will see a lot of awful or harmful coping techniques, such as mass migration and the loss of a generation of children.

“We also need more attention to this situation in the Lake Chad basin, in addition to additional money.” This is a situation that has garnered significantly less attention and financing than others. And, of course, we must be realistic, given that the humanitarian crisis has captured the world’s attention,” she added.

Even though the long-running conflict between Russia and Ukraine has put a strain on global humanitarian resources, Ms. Laing stated that the UK government is dedicated to ensuring that humanitarian assistance for Ukraine does not come at the expense of other crises.

Emmanuelle Blatmann, the French Ambassador to Nigeria, reaffirmed her government’s commitment to addressing food insecurity through large-scale cooperation programs with the World Food Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the European Union (EU).

She mentioned that the government is sending €166 million in food aid worldwide, with half of that going to Africa. Ms. Blatmann also stated that France will provide cash for food relief in drought-stricken areas to the Economic Community of West African States.

In its remarks, the EU body reaffirmed its political and financial commitment to African partner countries. In 2022, €554 million will be spent on improving food security in the Sahel and Lake Chad.

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