The United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF, said on Wednesday at least 50,000 malnourished children are in dire need of food and medical care in Borno State.
The international aid agency said it would be scaling up its intervention for malnourished children in the state.
UNICEF said it is presently caring for 12,000 children per month, but with the number of severely malnourished children increasing by the day, it is targeting about 48,000 to be provided with food and medical care every month.
UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director of Programmes, Omar Abdi, told PREMIUM TIMES in an interview that the agency was worried by the rising number of famished children in the conflict zone.
He said urgent steps must be taken to provide help for them in order to secure their lives.
Mr. Omar, who had led a UNICEF delegation to Maiduguri, said they were in Borno state to see the situation of the affected children and to talk to all stakeholders in the humanitarian business.
“This region, particularly the Northeast Nigeria has been affected by protracted conflict and a massive displacement that resulted in people not being able to do their farming for several years and hence facing food security”, he said.
“Last year, the government issued food security emergency that affected nearly five million people in this region and asked humanitarian organisations globally to respond and come to support Nigerian government.
“As UNICEF, we have been seriously concerned with the situation of children as a result of the conflict here.
“We estimate that nearly 50,000 children are severely malnourished as a result of food insecurity. We have scaled up our programmes, we have been working with other partners and supporting government efforts.
“So far we have scaled up our response of the nutrition community that have reached 12,000 children that are severely malnourished per month and we need to quadruple that number in order to reach those children that are severely malnourished.
“Children that are severely malnourished, if they are not treated quickly, risk dying, not only for malnutrition, but also of other diseases like diarrhoea and malaria.
“We are equally being concerned about the protection of children that have been affected by the war.
“We have been concerned about their education that have been disrupted even though government has brought back nearly two million in the school. But there is still one third of kids that are out of school. And those that are in school require supplies, they are studying in overcrowded classes, so they need space and learning materials as well.”