Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Nigeria facing 'a famine unlike any we have ever seen'

09 September 2016, 07:20

Maiduguri - The whimpers from skeletally thin babies too weak to cry are a harbinger of worse things to come: A quarter of the children lucky enough to make it to this emergency feeding center are dying. They are the latest victims of Boko Haram's Islamic insurgency.

No one knows how many more children are dying of starvation in refugee camps and areas too dangerous to access because of the extremists' presence, according to Doctors Without Borders, which runs the emergency feeding center. The aid group first sounded the alarm of a humanitarian crisis of "catastrophic" proportion in northeast Nigeria as Boko Haram lost its grip on some areas and its victims began to emerge.

"These are kids that basically have been hungry all their lives, and some are so far gone that they die here in the first 24 hours," said Jean Stowell, an American doctor in charge of the center in Maiduguri, the region's largest city. The 110-bed center has quadrupled in size in recent weeks, but each time it expands it rapidly fills.

Nearly a quarter of a million children are severely malnourished because Boko Haram has disrupted trade and farming, UN Assistant Secretary-General Toby Lanzer warned at a meeting in Brussels on Thursday. About 2 million people in the region have not been reached, "and we can't assess their situation. We can estimate that it's awful."

With Nigeria in a recession and without speedy outside help, "we will see, I think, a famine unlike any we have ever seen anywhere," he said.

One million refugees from Boko Haram are crowded into camps in Maiduguri. Outside the camps, fresh produce is cruelly bountiful. Markets are filled with pineapples, oranges, cabbage, green beans, tomatoes and carrots. But most refugees cannot afford them, and Nigeria's government is investigating reports of officials stealing food aid.

Also read: Lesotho farm lands dry up as drought worsens

Elsewhere, 1 million children are trapped in areas too dangerous to reach because of Boko Haram, the UN children's agency estimates. Its effort to reach some of them was put on hold in July when the extremists attacked a military-escorted humanitarian convoy on a major highway and a rocket hit the windshield of an armored car. A UNICEF worker was among three civilians wounded.

A Doctors Without Borders vehicle exploded a land mine on the same road in July; no one was seriously hurt. The organization had just brought the first aid to Bama, the region's second largest city, where they discovered that six people a day were dying of malnutrition and diarrhea.

Some children who make it out of such areas remain in danger.

In the steamy heat inside the feeding center, Hassana Mohammed tried to breastfeed a baby while comforting 18-month-old Yakubu, who was too weak to swallow and was irritated by the intravenous drip that fed him through his nose.

Mohammed's five children have known little but hunger and fear since Boko Haram killed her first husband when her eldest, 7-year-old Aisha, was just a month old.

"We've been on the run ever since, but Boko Haram was never far away," Mohammed said. "You will see some women dying in the bush during childbirth, and some dying on the way while running because of hunger. Some will run and leave their children for their safety, now many children were left in the bush to die."

The hardest thing now is finding food, she said. When aid workers made it to her refugee camp in Maiduguri, an informal collection of huts made of plastic sheeting and palm leaves, she received four handfuls of rice.

"It's supposed to last a week, but we run out after just a day or two," she said.

- AP


Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...