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Food & Health

Why 49,000 Children Will Die In The North – UNICEF

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About 49000 children will die in the northeast of Nigeria warns The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). UNICEF says lack of aid will lead to the the impending disaster. The lives of about 475000 children are at risk, following the 7-year insurgency by Boko Haram. If timely aid is not availed, 49,000 children will lose their lives, says the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) as it once again warned of a worsening humanitarian crisis in Nigeria.

About 49000 children will die in Nigeria’s northeastern region which has been ravaged by the war against Boko Haram. UNICEF said of the half a million children estimated to be at risk, 49,000 in the north-eastern Borno state alone may be left to die if they do not receive timely help. Nearly half a million children around Lake Chad face “severe acute malnutrition” due to drought and a seven-year insurgency by Islamist militant group Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria, UNICEF said on Thursday, August 25.

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, according to the United Nations’ child agency, which is appealing for $308 million to cope with the crisis. However, to date, UNICEF said it had only received $41million, 13% of what it needs to help those affected in the four countries – Chad, Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon that border Lake Chad.

At the start of 2015, Boko Haram occupied an area the size of Belgium but has since been pushed back over the last 18months by military assaults by the four countries. Most of its remaining forces are now hiding in the wilds of 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.

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Despite the military gains, Unicef said, 2.2 million people remain trapped in areas under the control of Boko Haram which is trying to establish a caliphate in the southern reaches of the Sahara or are staying in camps, fearful of going home. Boko Haram is thought to have killed as many as 15 000 people since the launch of its insurgency in 2009.

Responding to its battlefield setbacks, Boko Haram has turned to suicide bombings, many involving children. Unicef said it had recorded 38 cases of child suicide bombings so far this year, against 44 in the whole of 2015 and just four the year before that. Manuel Fontaine, Unicef’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa, said: “The Lake Chad crisis is a children’s crisis that should rank high on the global migration and displacement agenda.

Humanitarian needs are outpacing the response, especially now that new areas previously unreachable in north-east Nigeria become accessible.”  Although most of the Islamic militants have been pushed back from their stronghold in Borno state in the last 18 months, they are said to be now hiding in the Sambisa forest in the southeast of the state.

Besides, the report has estimated that 38 children have been used to carry out suicide attacks in Lake Chad basin till date in 2016 alone. The total number of child suicide bombers now stands at 86 since 2014. “Local communities are sharing the little they have to help those in need in an act of humanity that is replicated in thousands of homes across the conflict-affect areas,” Fontaine said. IBT reports that in June, Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French name of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), said a makeshift camp for the internally displaced was witnessing “a catastrophic emergency”.

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