UN says 184 children ‘will die’ of malnutrition every day in the north-east

Unless relief funds are scaled up, up to 184 children daily and seven to eight children hourly will die of “severe acute” malnutrition in the north east, Munir Safieldin, acting humanitarian coordinator of the UN, has said.

Safieldin said on Monday that 15 million people are affected by Boko Haram insurgency, including 7 million who need urgent humanitarian assistance.

“Unless we scale up now, 7 to 8 children will die of severe acute malnutrition every hour; 184 children will die every day. We need resources now to scale up our current response,” Safieldin said in a statement.

Responding to the emergency, Stephen O’Brien, United Nations humanitarian chief, said he had released US$13 million from the central emergency response fund (CERF) for 250,000 people who had just become accessible in the north east.

“The destruction of crops and looting of livestock have left many people unable to support their families. More than 50,000 people need seeds and tools for the upcoming planting season and CERF funding will help them to rebuild their livelihoods,” O’Brien said.

“People have experienced unspeakable suffering due to the violence perpetrated by Boko Haram. We now have better access finally, and a chance to help them”.

“The international community must take advantage of this opening to reach people with essential services and build on the CERF allocation to scale up the response.”

O’ Brien said “significant number of women and girls, and also men and boys, have suffered or witnessed terrible abuses; CERF funds will enable humanitarian partners to provide critical psychosocial support and protection services.”

The funds, according to the UN statement, will be used to support the provision of food, cash for food purchase, special child nutritional supplements, protection and health services to the most vulnerable people in the newly accessible areas through disbursements.

The humanitarian response plan for Nigeria is $279 million and is only 22 per cent funded.

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