UN RAISES ALARM OVER FOOD INSECURITY IN THE NORTHEAST


The United Nations said it would require over $182 million urgently to sustain lifesaving aid for millions of people in Nigeria who are hit severely by the effect of coronavirus pandemic and the decade-long conflict in the North-East region, especially Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.

According to the senior spokesperson of the World Food Programme (WFP), Elisabeth Byrs, in a statement made available to AGRICFOCUS, “We are concerned by conflict-affected communities in northeast Nigeria who already face extreme hunger and who are especially vulnerable. They are on life-support and need assistance to survive.

“The three states have been plagued by insurgency that has spilled over into the Lake Chad region. It remains among the most severe humanitarian crises in the world, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), with some 7.9 million mainly women and children in need of urgent assistance today.

 “That’s why WFP is distributing now two months’ worth of food and nutrition assistance in IDP camps and among vulnerable communities to ensure that people have enough food while they are on full or partial lockdown”.

 She said the WFP is scaling up its operations in the Northeast to serve more people in response to the new challenges of more food insecurity posed by COVID-19.

"However, there have been a few delays with COVID-19 containment movement restrictions that are affecting supply chains. These have been generally managed and we have continued providing assistance. We continue to appeal to all parties to ensure access to people in need and respect humanitarian space," she said.

 WFP’s involvement has included re-adjusting school meals programmes during school closures by providing food to take home. The initiative kicked off in the Federal Capital Territory and the commercial capital Lagos, in mid-May.

 The programme led by Nigeria’s Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs - aims to reach nine million children in three million homes across the country’s 36 states, where school closures have affected some 39 million youngsters. The urban poor remain the focus of the scheme, including the floating slum community of Makoko, where tens of thousands of people live cheek by jowl, on stilt houses in a village on the outskirts of Lagos.