Almost a quarter of a million children are severely malnourished in Nigeria’s north-eastern state of Borno, where Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram is being blamed for a humanitarian crisis, the United Nations children’s fund UNICEF said Tuesday.
Roughly one in five of the 244,000 acutely malnourished children will die if they are not treated speedily, the agency warned.
“Some 134 children on average will die every day from causes linked to acute malnutrition if the response is not scaled up quickly," said UNICEF regional director for West and Central Africa, Manuel Fontaine, after a visit to the area.
Fontaine said he witnessed thousands of frail children in desperate need of help and families with little access to adequate sanitation, water or food.
"There are 2 million people we are still not able to reach in Borno state, which means that the true scope of this crisis has yet to be revealed to the world,” Fontaine warned.
Boko Haram poses a steady threat to communities in the north-east of Nigeria and has also launched offensives in neighbouring Chad, Niger and Cameroon. The group's goal is to enforce a strict interpretation of Islamic law, known as sharia. Since 2009, at least 14,000 people have died at the hands of the Sunni fundamentalists in Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger. According to the United Nations, an estimated 2.7 million people in the region have fled their homes due to Boko Haram.