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Agencies fear famine in Nigeria

06 January 2017

Christian Aid

Makeshift: a woman stands in front of her shelter in a camp in Kaga local government area, Borno State

Makeshift: a woman stands in front of her shelter in a camp in Kaga local government area, Borno State

A STATE of famine is believed to exist in inaccessible parts of north-east Nigeria, still affected by attacks from the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, agencies monitoring the country have reported.

Four million people in the north-east of the country are now in need of food, international agencies have warned.

The Famine Early Warning Sys­tems Network, based in the United States, has released a report showing that a state of famine existed in the two main towns of the north-east, Barma and Banki, last year, and at least 2000 famine-related deaths occurred in nine months. Food assist­ance reached the two towns in the autumn of last year, but large areas of Borno State still remain in­­accessible to human­itarian agencies, and the famine is likely to continue in these areas, the Network has warned. The current human­itarian response is insuf­ficient, its report says.

Christian Aid, which has so far helped more than 51,000 people in Borno State, said that it was running out of money. The head of hu­­manitarian work at the charity, Nick Guttmann, visited the region last autumn. He said: “We heard horror stories about how villages were attacked by Boko Haram, with dozens of people killed and injured.

“Most of the houses were burnt down, and families have been forced to share shelter. . . We asked people what they needed most, and everyone told us: food.” The lack of media coverage be­­cause of the inaccessibility of the region was hindering the ability of humani­tarian organisations to raise funds to buy food and other aid, he said.

Thousands have been killed in the seven-year insurgency, and an esti­mated 1.7 million people displaced.

The Nigerian military reported over Christmas that it had captured Boko Haram’s headquarters. The Nigerian press reported a military commander saying that the “war against Boko Haram is over.” The militants, however, still control many areas around Chibok, and north of the state capital.

The President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, said a year ago that the war against the mil­itants was over, only to find that it continued throughout 2016.

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