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Children displaced by Boko Haram in Nigeria continue to face malnutrition


Fanna Mohammed is worried about her son. Seven month old Umara is thin and listless. The family fled their village in Borno state earlier this year due to the ongoing Boko Haram crisis.

Now they live in an IDP camp with thousands of others in the state capital Maiduguri, a former Boko Haram stronghold in northeast Nigeria, among displaced families that officials say need urgent humanitarian assistance.

Umara is one one of more than 117,000 children across northeast Nigeria that UNICEF has admitted to therapeutic feeding programmes. But there are still thousands more that need urgent help.

Umara’s mother Fanna Mohammed says he’s been ill for the past few weeks. He is physically showing signs of severe acute malnutrition. The bones on his chest and back are prominent; his skin is lose around his arms and legs

According to the UN, around 14 million people will need humanitarian help and 75,000 children are at risk of dying from famine in the next year.

“When Umara was brought in here, Umara was looks very down, he doesn’t laugh, he doesn’t play, he looks, he does not look okay at all,” said UNICEF nutrition officer, Aishat Mohammed Abdullahi.

Umara is now beginning to show signs of improving after he began treatment at this medical clinic in the IDP camp.

“The baby can play, eat, drink now. He is not being sick anymore. He is so happy!” said Umara’s mother, Fanna.

The Islamist militant group has killed 15,000 people and displaced more than 2 million from their homes during a seven-year insurgency in Africa’s most populous nation and biggest energy producer.

Nigerian military forces backed by those from neighbouring states have pushed Boko Haram back to the northeast’s vast Sambisa forest in the last few months, enabling aid workers to access areas previously controlled by the jihadists.

That has revealed thousands of people living in famine-like conditions.

Maiduguri, where the military headquarters are located, has become an oasis of safety that is choking under the pressure.

Its population over the last few years has almost tripled to 5 million, according to the national relief agency, causing shortages of everything from living space to food and cash.

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