The United Nations International Children Emergency Fund, UNICEF, on Monday said that 1.4 million children suffering from severe malnutrition could die this year from famine in Nigeria and three other countries.
The three other countries are Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.
According to UNICEF, in Yemen, where war has been raging for nearly two years, 462,000 children are suffering from acute malnutrition while 450,000 children are severely malnourished in northeast Nigeria.
Drought in Somalia has left 185,000 children on the brink of famine but that figure is expected to reach 270,000 in the next few months, said UNICEF.
In South Sudan, over 270,000 children are malnourished and a famine has just been declared in parts of Unity State in the north of the country, where 20,000 children live.
UNICEF director, Anthony Lake, appealed for quick action.
“We can still save many lives,” he said.
In January, a report by the Famine Early Warning System Network, FEWS NET, an agency supported by the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, said that due to persistent conflict, severe drought and economic instability, Nigeria and three other countries faced a credible risk of famine in 2017.
The report had added that the Boko Haram crisis continues to contribute to large scale population displacement, limit market activity, and restrict normal livelihoods.
Earlier in 2016, the presidency had warned Nigerians of a likelihood of famine if the excess export of Nigerian grains is not checked.
”Huge demand for our grains in the global market is creating an excellent environment for the mindless export of Nigerian food across our borders and unless this is curtailed, Nigerian markets will be bereft of grains by January next year,” presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, had said in November.
Mr. Shehu had added that the Ministry of Agriculture advised the president to call the attention of all Nigerians to the issue which, if not addressed promptly, could lead to a shortage of grains in the country.