THE United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has said that it may cut food rations to more than half of population in the North-East Nigeria.
This was disclosed by WFP’s Regional Director for West Africa Chris Nikoi in a statement on Saturday in Abuja.
Nikoi said that WFP would do this unless urgent funding was secured to further its operations in crisis-ridden Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
“Cutting rations means choosing who gets to eat and who goes to bed hungry. We are seeing funding for our life-saving humanitarian work dry up just at the time when hunger is at its most severe,” Nikoi said.
The WFP director said that the cuts would come just as severe hunger reached a five-year high in the country, in the wake of years of conflict and insecurity.
He also said that the situation had been worsened by the socio-economic implications of the COVID-19, high food prices and limited food supply in Nigeria.
He also added that the number of internally-displaced surpassed two million in September.
He further said that if at least $55 million was not received in a matter of weeks, WFP would have no choice but to cut food rations and reduce the number of people it served, where assistance was already prioritised for the most vulnerable as early as November.
“Our food assistance is a lifeline for millions whose lives have been upended by conflict and have almost nothing to survive on. We must act now to save lives and avoid disruptions to this lifeline,” Nikoi added.
He said that the number of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) forced to flee their homes in search of safety in North-East Nigeria had been rising steadily, reaching a new all-time high of over two million in September 2021.
“The number of internally displaced people – people forced to flee their homes in search for safety – in northeast Nigeria has been rising steadily and reached a new all-time high of over 2 million in September 2021.
“…Current food security analyses show that 4.4 million people in northeast Nigeria do not know where their next meal is coming from. Additionally, over 1 million children are malnourished,” the statement read in part.
The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria Edward Kallon said cutting food ration would be a painful decision for humanitarians in the region.
“Cutting food assistance will be a painful decision for humanitarians as it will negatively affect children, women and men uprooted from their homes due to continued violence.
“As we call upon our partners to step up their support in response to the growing needs, I would like to say thank you to those who have stood with us over the years in providing the much-needed humanitarian assistance in the country,” Kallon said.
The North-East region of Nigeria has been most affected by insurgency, terrorism and banditry for more than a decade.
Over 34,000 persons have been killed by terrorist groups while more than 3.4 million persons have been displaced by the crisis.