The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that half a million women, men and children in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states are at risk of starvation as its funding for the region dries up.
In a statement released on Friday, the global agency says it may soon be forced to cut food rations except it secures urgent funding to continue its life-saving operations in the crisis hotspot.
The region has been a mainstay of insurgency attacks for over a decade and the situation has been worsened by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising high food prices, the WFP said.
The UN agency also said the number of internally-displaced persons surpassed two million in September.
“Cutting rations means choosing who gets to eat and who goes to bed hungry. We are seeing funding for our life-saving humanitarian work dry up just at the time when hunger is at its most severe,” said Chris Nikoi, WFP’s Regional Director for West Africa following a recent visit to Nigeria.
The WFP, which won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2020, said it required at least $55 million in a matter of weeks to avoid cutting food aid.
“Our food assistance is a lifeline for millions whose lives have been upended by conflict and have almost nothing to survive on. We must act now to save lives and avoid disruptions to this lifeline,” Nikoi added.
The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, said cutting food assistance “will be a painful decision for humanitarians as it will negatively affect children, women and men uprooted from their homes due to continued violence.
“As we call upon our partners to step up their support in response to the growing needs, I would like to say thank you to those who have stood with us over the years in providing the much-needed humanitarian assistance in the country.”
According to its Friday statement, the WFP said it has “provided life-saving food and nutrition assistance to severely food insecure people, displaced families in camps, and to vulnerable people living in host communities thanks to generous contributions from Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Nigeria, Republic of Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, the United States of America, and private donors.
“This year, relying on the continued generosity of donor partners, WFP ramped up its response to address rising food insecurity and the impact of COVID-19, targeting 1.9 million displaced people in Nigeria with life-saving food assistance.
“To sustain humanitarian operations in northeast Nigeria until March 2022, WFP urgently requires USD 197 million.”