Insurgency: UNICEF says 400,000 children risk starvation in N’East

By Baba Kura Mallam, Maiduguri

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Mr. Anthony Lake has said the violent conflict in northeast Nigeria has left children severely malnourished and at risk of death.

Lake who stated this on Wednesday in a press statement through his Chief Communication officer, Mrs. Doune Porter added that 400,000 children will suffer from severe acute malnutrition over the next year in the three affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.

He said this would be possible If they do not receive the treatment they need, adding that 1 in 5 of these children will die because cases of diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia are on the rise and further endangering children’s lives.

He noted that the figures represent is only a fraction of the suffering. Stressing further that large areas of Borno state are completely inaccessible to any kind of humanitarian assistance. “We are extremely concerned about the children trapped in these areas.”

Lake said: “In the three worst-affected states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, farming has been disrupted and crops destroyed, food reserves depleted and often pillaged, and livestock killed or abandoned.

“In Borno, where the fighting has been most brutal, 75 per cent of the water and sanitation infrastructure and 30 per cent of all health facilities have been destroyed, looted or damaged. And the impact on children is devastating.

“We are making a difference in the areas we can reach. With the World Food Programme and other partners, we are treating acutely malnourished children. We are vaccinating children against measles and polio.

“We are providing safe water and sanitation services. But this is nowhere close to enough. Without adequate resources and without safe access, we and our partners will be unable to reach children whose lives are at imminent risk.”

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