UN: 49K kids dying of malnutrition linked to Boko Haram

Michelle Faul
Associated Press

Lagos, Nigeria — Some 49,000 children will die of malnutrition in areas once cut off by northeastern Nigeria’s Islamic extremist uprising if they don’t get treatment, the U.N. children’s agency warned Tuesday.

UNICEF called on charities and donors to respond quickly to avert a tragedy in Borno state, where nearly a quarter of a million children are severely malnourished.

Most of the children are in areas that had been inaccessible before a multinational force liberated them from Boko Haram extremists earlier this year.

“Some 134 children on average will die every day from causes linked to acute malnutrition if the response is not scaled up quickly,” the agency’s regional director, Manuel Fontaine said.

Children already are dying. Doctors Without Borders has warned of a “catastrophic humanitarian emergency” unfolding in the city of Bama, where it said 200 people had died in June and where refugees spoke of children dying of hunger every day.

The seven-year Boko Haram insurgency, which pledged support for the Islamic State group last year, has killed more than 20,000 people and spread across Nigeria’s borders, forcing about 2.7 million people from their homes.

UNICEF said the agency has received less than half of the $55.5 million it appealed for earlier this year, and now the needs are even greater.