Millions of people in Nigeria’s northeast risks starvation after the United Nations’ World Food Programme warned it could in a few weeks run out of funding to run aid programs.
More than 4.7 million in the northeast, many of them refugees from the conflict hit regions by Boko Haram, needs rations to survive, according to the World Food Programme (WFP), intensifying one of the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
“With the money they have right now, and if they won’t cut rations, they can only go to May 18,” one person said, citing talks with the WFP, who asked to not be named because they were not authorised to speak to media.
The WFP was “reasonably certain” it would get enough funding to last until late June, the person added.
“All humanitarian crises globally are woefully underfunded and for WFP Nigeria is in one of the worst situations for funding,” a WFP spokeswoman said.
“We are trying to save lives. We need over the next six months $207 million for Nigeria. At the moment the programme is 13 percent funded for 2017. It’s extremely low. Of the four countries facing famine it is the least funded.”
The conflict with Islamist insurgency Boko Haram, which seeks to establish a caliphate in Nigeria’s northeast, began in 2009 and shows no sign of ending. It has killed more than 20,000 people and displaced more than two million.
Nigeria’s northeast is now teetering on the brink of famine, aid organisations say, pointing to two years of missed crop harvests in what was once a breadbasket for the country, and the high likelihood of missing a third.
The approaching rainy season increases the risk of disease spreading, especially within camps for the displaced, adding more stress to efforts to respond to the humanitarian crisis.
The wet season also means tens of thousands of refugees are attempting to return home to farm, despite facing serious dangers, saying there is not enough food provided in the camps to sustain them.