The United Nations (UN) humanitarian community in Nigeria has raised an alarm on the rising hunger and a resulting spike in conflicts in the North East.
They alerted that the number of people needing humanitarian assistance is the highest ever recorded in five years of a joint humanitarian response.
Mr. Edward Kallon, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, made this known during an online high-level briefing.
Hajiya Sadiya Umar-Farouq, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and Prof. Babagana Zulum, Borno State Governor as well as other UN and NGO representatives were all in attendance at the briefing.
Kallon stated that the coronavirus pandemic has affected greatly their activities in the region and called for immediate action.
“The number of people needing humanitarian assistance is the highest ever recorded in five years of a joint humanitarian response,” he said.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting us all. Its’ devastating effects will distress Nigeria’s most fragile region. Unless we take immediate action, we should prepare for a spike in conflict, hunger and destitution in North-East Nigeria.
“Over 10.6 million people— out of a total of 13 million, or four in five people — will need some form of humanitarian assistance in 2020.
“This is close to a 50 percent increase in people in need since last year, mainly from increasing violence and insecurity further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Paul Howe, Representative and Country Director of the World Food Programme, who also spoke at the event, said, “We are concerned about conflict-affected communities who already face severe hunger and are vulnerable to the socio-economic fallout from the pandemic.
“They are on life support and need assistance to survive.
“Though humanitarian organisations are providing food assistance to over 2.5 million people, the food security situation has gradually worsened over the past three years.
“In an area where famine was averted only a few years ago and where millions are still struggling day by day to find their next meal, the steep rise in prices and movement restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic is an insufferable shock.
“Up to 4.3 million people could now be facing hunger.”