UN Warns: Mass Starvation Imminent In Nigeria

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) on Tuesday sternly warned Nigeria to quickly address food security issues at all costs to avert a situation where a significant proportion of its population is stalked by mass starvation.

Adrian Edwards, UN Refugee Agency’s spokesperson, said at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on Tuesday: “UNHCR is warning today that the risk of mass deaths from starvation among populations in the Horn of Africa, Yemen and Nigeria is growing. This warning is in light of droughts that are also affecting many neighbouring countries and a funding shortfall that has become so severe that an avoidable humanitarian crisis in the region, possibly worse than that of 2011, is fast becoming an inevitability.”

He added: “In northern Nigeria, seven million people are now struggling with food insecurity and need help. The situation is particularly bad in parts of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states where by June it’s expected that some 5.1 million people will be in Integrated Food Security Phase classification levels of between 3 and 5 (worst).”

UNHCR says it is scaling up efforts with its partners and reminding the international community that the Horn of Africa drought of 2011 cost more than 260,000 lives, with more than half of these children aged below five.

“A repeat must be avoided at all costs. Our operations in South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen are today funded at between 3 and 11 percent. It is now urgent that the shortfalls be addressed,” it stated.

UNHCR High Commissioner Filippo Grandi is said to be attending a high-level extraordinary meeting in Berlin today, April 12, 2017. The “Berlin Humanitarian Call – jointly against famine” meeting, called for by the German Federal Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Edwards said, will bring together donor countries and humanitarian partners, as well as local responders, to review and raise more awareness for the dire humanitarian situation in the countries affected.

Independent gathered that an appeal has been made for $4 billion as drought and conflict in league with other avoidable negative developments stalk and threaten 20 million people in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.

Edward also said: “Always the problem that we have with humanitarian crises in sub-Saharan Africa is that they tend to get overlooked until things are too late.”

UNHCR says it is expanding its operations but is blocked by a severe funding shortfall, with some of the country programmes only funded at between three and 11 percent.

Funding Shortfall
Overall the UN has appealed for $4.4 billion for the four countries by the end of April, but has received less than $984 million or 21 percent to date, said Jens Laerke of the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

He also told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that UNHCR’s operations in famine-hit North East Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen were funded at between just three and 11 percent, which is a far cry from what it would take to stem the tide of misery in the affected countries.

Nigeria’s Recovery Plan
Nigeria recently launched its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) with special attention on agricultural transformation and food security.

“Agriculture will continue to be a stable driver of GDP growth, with an average growth rate of 6.9 percent over the plan period. The agricultural sector will boost growth by expanding crop production and the fisheries, livestock and forestry sub-sectors as well as developing the value chain. Investment in agriculture will drive food security by achieving self-sufficiency in tomato paste (in 2017), rice (in 2018) and wheat (in 2020). Thus, by 2020, Nigeria is projected to become a net exporter of key agricultural products, such as rice, cashew nuts, groundnuts, cassava and vegetable oil,” the government says in the ERGP.

“The structure of the economy remains highly import dependent, consumption driven and undiversified. Oil accounts for more than 95 percent of exports and foreign exchange earnings while the manufacturing sector accounts for less than one percent of total exports. The high growth recorded during 2011-2015, which averaged 4.8 percent per annum, mainly driven by higher oil prices, was largely non-inclusive. The majority of Nigerians remain under the burden of poverty, inequality and unemployment. The general economic performance was also seriously undermined by deplorable infrastructure, corruption and mismanagement of public finances. Decades of consumption and high oil price-driven growth led to an economy with a positive but jobless growth trajectory.” the ERGP also acknowledges.

Source: Daily Independent

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