Thursday 27 April 2017

120,000 Nigerians facing Boko Haram-created famine, says UN

Nigerian refugees in Minowao Camp, Cameroon (Amnesty International/PA)
Nigerian refugees in Minowao Camp, Cameroon (Amnesty International/PA)

More than 120,000 Nigerians are likely to suffer "catastrophic" famine-like conditions caused by Boko Haram's Islamic uprising, among 11 million confronting severe food shortages this year, the UN has said.

The report from the Food and Agriculture Organisation predicts Africa's biggest humanitarian crisis in north-east Nigeria is likely to deteriorate between June and August.

It said: "Trends show that food security and nutrition are worsening," especially in Borno state, the birthplace of Boko Haram.

Borno is expected to have 65% of an estimated 121,000 people living in famine-like conditions.

UN agencies have reported that children are already dying in the region and more than 500,000 face death if they do not get help.

Corruption compounds the crisis with Nigeria investigating reports of stolen food aid.

Officials are investigating reports that local government agencies are stealing food aid.

Despite the crisis, Nigeria's cereal production went up by about 5% in 2016, the report said, even though the Boko Haram uprising has forced hundreds of thousands of farmers off their land.

The report credited increased government support for agriculture, above-average rainfall and increased commodity prices.

But Nigeria remains a "food-deficit country" with cereal imports, mainly rice and wheat, forecast to exceed seven million tons this year, it said.

Nigeria remains the world's biggest importer of rice, indicating a failure of government efforts to reduce dependence on food imports amid a crushing shortage of foreign currency caused by low global prices for oil.

Thousands of Nigerians marched this week to protest over growing hardship brought on by high food prices, poverty, corruption and unemployment, among other issues.

Vice president Yemi Osinbajo told them he feels their pain but life will get better.

"With complete focus on improving the economy every day, the recession will soon be history," he said.

AP

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