GENEVA – About 4.3 million people in northeast Nigeria are projected to face severe hunger between June and August, the United Nations (UN) warned on Friday.
Jens Laerke, the spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told a UN weekly press briefing that the period between harvests, where people typically struggle to meet their food needs, is set to begin next month and OCHA is "raising the alarm of widespread hunger and child malnutrition in the conflict-affected states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe."
Laerke said their analysis shows that almost 600,000 people of 4.3 million are facing emergency levels of food shortage.
An estimated 2 million children under five in the three states are facing wasting, he said, adding that about 700,000 of them are at risk of severe wasting.
They are "11 times more likely to die compared to well-nourished children" and "need immediate interventions," he said.
The World Food Program, he said, is increasing its efforts to give emergency food and nutrition aid to 2.1 million people, while UNICEF provides therapeutic treatment to acutely malnourished children.
"However, the message from our colleagues in Nigeria is clear: we must further scale up interventions, including food, therapeutic food, and livelihood assistance."
Laerke warned that the situation for millions of people could turn "catastrophic," as he drew attention to the lack of funding as only 11 percent of the USD1.3 billion needed for the northeast in 2023 has been met.
"The longer families go unassisted, the greater the risk of starvation and death, and more people may be forced into damaging and harmful coping strategies, such as survival sex, selling their possessions, and child labor," he said. (Anadolu)