475 000 children at risk in Lake Chad area
NEARLY half a million children around Lake Chad face “severe acute malnutrition” due to drought and a seven-year violent campaign by the armed group Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria, Unicef has warned.
Of the 475 000 deemed at risk, 49 000 in Nigeria’s Borno state, Boko Haram’s heartland, will die this year if they do not receive treatment, the UN children’s agency said yesterday.
At the start of 2015, Boko Haram occupied an area the size of Belgium but has since been pushed back after Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon formed a coalition along with Benin to fight the group.
Most of its remaining forces are now hiding inside the vast Sambisa forest, southeast of the Borno provincial capital, Maiduguri.
Unicef said that as Nigerian government forces captured and secured territory, aid officials were starting to piece together the scale of the humanitarian disaster left behind in the group’s wake.
“Towns and villages are in ruins and communities have no access to basic services,” Unicef said in a report.
In Borno, nearly two thirds of hospitals and clinics had been partially or completely destroyed and three-quarters of water and sanitation facilities needed to be rehabilitated.
Despite the military gains, Unicef said, 2.2 million people remain trapped in areas under the control of Boko Haram or are staying in camps, fearful of going home. — AFP