Nutrition crisis looms in Northeast, UN envoy raises alarm

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As north-east Nigeria continues to face an unrelenting humanitarian crisis, 4.1 million people in north-east Nigeria risk of severe food insecurity this lean season, United Nations (UN) Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria Mr. Matthias Schmale briefed Member States in Geneva, Switzerland today.

According to Schmale, people in this part of Nigeria are already extremely vulnerable after struggling through 12 years of conflict.

“In 2022, 8.4 million people need humanitarian assistance across Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States.” He said.

Schmale briefed Member States in Geneva on the needs, challenges and windows of opportunity in the north-east.

He described the deteriorating food security and nutrition situation as an issue that requires immediate support.

“This food insecurity is felt painfully across the region, especially as operations are so desperately in need of funding. In Yobe State, families have not received food assistance for up to eight months.

“Some people are left without food for days not knowing where their next meal will come from,” said Mr. Schmale.

He revealed that the March, 2022 Cadre Harmonisé, a tool used to identify areas at risk from food insecurity and malnutrition in the Sahel and West Africa, projects that between June to September, 4.1 million people will be food insecure.

“Among them, almost 600, 000 people are projected to be at emergency levels (Phase 4), which is characterized by large food consumption gaps reflected in very high acute malnutrition and excess mortality. This high-risk period, the lean season, overlaps with the rainy season, a time when children are left vulnerable from disease outbreaks, with weakened resistance if malnourished.

“Malnutrition among children grows increasingly dangerous in the north-east. Approximately 1.74 million children under five are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition across the north-east in 2022.

“Of these, over 300,000 are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition and are at high risk of death if they do not receive urgent treatment. A multi-sector response plan has been put in place by the UN and humanitarian partners to provide life-saving aid and prevent a potentially catastrophic food and nutrition situation.

“The plan requires $351 million, and is part of the overall request of $1.1 billion for the2022 Humanitarian Response Plan, which is severely under-funded at19.6per cent.

“I cannot emphasise enough, we need the resources today and not tomorrow,” said Schmale.

The 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan aims to assist 5.5 million people in need, and as described by Mr. Schmale is a two-track process.

He added: “The bulk of interventions focus on emergency assistance, but at same time our approach aims to lift people out of vulnerable situations and reduce humanitarian need by increasingly focusing on durable solutions and building resilience where possible.”

Mr. Schmale appealed to the international community for immediate support to get aid to those who need it most.

 

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