MSF: UN must de­clare Nige­ria ‘top emer­gency’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

GENEVA — North­east­ern Nige­ria is close to famine with hun­dreds of thou­sands trapped with­out help, and must be de­clared a “top emer­gency” by the UN, said med­i­cal char­ity Doc­tors With­out Bor­ders on Wed­nes­day.

The char­ity, known by its French acro­nym MSF, said the re­gion dev­as­tated by Boko Haram’s Is­lamist in­sur­gency had be­tween 500,000 and 800,000 peo­ple trapped in ar­eas that can­not be reached by hu­man­i­tar­ian work­ers.

A UN “top emer­gency” des­ig­na­tion - which would put Nige­ria on a list with Syria, Iraq and Yemen - would im­me­di­ately mo­bilise more re­sources to a cri­sis that has not re­ceived nearly enough at­ten­tion, MSF said.

Boko Haram at­tacks in the north­east have de­clined over the last year, but MSF’s emer­gency pro­gramme man­ager Hugues Robert noted that aid work­ers were still lim­ited in where they can go.

Some cities in the north­east, such as Banki and Bama, had gone up to 18 months with­out any hu­man­i­tar­ian de­liv­er­ies be­fore aid agen­cies and the UN ar­rived in June.

“What was ex­tremely shock­ing was the level of se­vere acute mal­nu­tri­tion,” Robert said, adding that com­mu­ni­ties faced “close to a famine sit­u­a­tion”.

Many ar­eas can only be ac­cessed un­der es­cort from the Nige­rian army, he told re­porters in Geneva af­ter re­turn­ing from Borno state, the epi­cen­tre of the Boko Haram in­sur­gency.

“We need the UN and all their agen­cies to con­sider this as a top emer­gency,” Bruno Jochum, di­rec­tor of MSF Switzer­land, told re­porters.

Boko Haram, which seeks to im­pose strict Is­lamic law in north­ern Nige­ria, has been blamed for about 20,000 deaths and dis­plac­ing more than 2.6 mil­lion peo­ple since 2009. — AFP

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