The International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC, has described the situation faced by millions of people, especially women and children, in the Lake Chad basin as hopeless.
According to the charity organization, the devastation caused by the Boko Haram insurgency has forced a lot of women and girls into prostitution just to be able to provide for themselves and their children.
More than 2 million people have been displaced and forced to settle in camps across the swamp lands of Lake Chad, where the borders of Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria meet.
The United Nations also estimates that up to a million people have been cut off from humanitarian aid due to continued fighting in spite of a regional military offensive against the Islamist militants.
Simon Brooks, leader of the ICRC delegation in Cameroon said: “It’s extraordinary to see a woman and her family and they have nothing other than what they have been given.
“The children are clearly malnourished and it’s just hopeless.
“When you don’t have the means to survive, you’ll go begging for it.”
Brooks acknowledged that most of the women are the head of their households, having lost their husbands to the insurgents; and since there are no other means with which to provide for their families, they are forced to resort to prostitution.
“It’s a loss of dignity when you’re having to resort to something like that just to keep your children alive – fraternising with people who have money,” he said.
The crisis in the Lake Chad basin was named the most neglected crisis of 2016 in a poll of aid agencies by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“Overshadowed by the wars in Syria and Iraq and the global refugee and migrant crisis, Lake Chad has barely made the headlines,’’ Brooks said.
“Half a million children are severely acutely malnourished and on the brink of death if they are not treated.
“This area has suffered from decades of chronic neglect (and) if it continues to be under-funded and under-reported, then millions of people will continue to suffer,” Brooks said.