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The United Nations International Children’s Education Fund, UNICEF, has said that an estimated 400,000 children under five of age are at risk of acute malnutrition in Northeastern Nigeria due to the ongoing Boko Haram crisis.
The UN agency said it is increasing its humanitarian appeal for Nigeria by $60 million in order to avert the looming crisis.
This is coming just a day after an International Non-Governmental Organisation, Medicin San Frontiers, MSF, commonly known as Doctors Without Borders, issued a similar alert on the humanitarian situation in various IDP camps in Borno.
However, Mohammed Kanar, coordinator of the Northeast zone of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, denied the claims, saying there was nothing like that in the camps.
He accused the MSF of trying to use the issue of malnutrition to raise money for its own campaigns.
In the UNICEF statement released on Thursday and signed by Afshan Khan, UNICEF’s Director of Emergency Programmes, the agency said it needed to more than double its funding appeal in order to provide life-saving assistance for children in northeast Nigeria.
It said that it has revised its humanitarian appeal for Nigeria from US$ 55 million to US$ 115 million to assist an additional 750,000 people who can now be reached across conflict-affected areas in the northeast of the country.
The statement read that: “As new areas open up to humanitarian assistance, the true scale of the Boko Haram related crisis and its impact on children is being revealed.
“An estimated 400,000 children under five will suffer from severe acute malnutrition in three states across the northeast this year.
“More than 4 million people are facing severe food shortages and 65,000 people are living in famine-like conditions, mostly in Borno, the worst affected state.
Khan stated that UNICEF can access more areas in Borno state to provide critical humanitarian assistance but added, “we need greater international support to further scale up and reach all children in dire need.”
The statement further indicated that 60 percent of health clinics have been partially or completely destroyed and that “75 percent of water and sanitation facilities require rehabilitation in Borno state.
“Nearly one million children are now displaced across the northeast, a million are out of school and hundreds of thousands psychologically affected from the horrors they have lived through.”
The UNICEF director also pointed out that the lack of access to many children in the state due to the insurgency had led to a fresh outbreak of polio as three cases of the wild polio virus were confirmed in August and September.
The agency, however, acknowledged that massive coordinated emergency polio immunisation and nutrition campaigns are under way in the northeast Nigeria and neighbouring countries, targeting 1.8 million children in Borno state alone.