By Modupe Gbadeyanka
In barely a month since the beginning of December, WFP has delivered food or cash to more than a million Nigerians in conflict-affected zones in the Northeast.
This means that over half of those in need of urgent humanitarian assistance have now been reached.
The milestone came as WFP ramped up its response in Borno and Yobe States, where as many as four million people are food insecure.
The region has been devastated by years of violence linked to the Boko Haram insurgency: in some areas, more than half of all children under five suffer from acute malnutrition.
“The needs are of course tremendous, and more has to be done. Even so, this is a dramatic expansion from the 160,000 people we were able to assist as recently as October.
“It is only thanks to the joint efforts of all humanitarian partners, including the Government of Nigeria, that we have achieved such high numbers,” said Sory Ouane, WFP’s Nigeria Country Director and Emergency Coordinator.
In areas with functioning markets, more than 170,000 people were assisted with cash. Nearly 800,000 people – most of them internally displaced, in camps or in host communities – benefited from food distributions; and almost 180,000 children under five were given specialized nutritious food.
Under its new Rapid Response Mechanism, which includes extensive use of helicopters and the pooling of logistics and telecommunications resources across the humanitarian community, WFP has managed to reach areas that were previously inaccessible.
“While it has been challenging to scale up and provide timely, life-saving food assistance, we are now looking at ways to assist even more people in need – as many as 2.5 million by April 2017,” Ouane added.
WFP is funded entirely by voluntary contributions and needs a total of US$208 million for its humanitarian response in Northeast Nigeria over the next six months, of which US$143 million has yet to be found.
“We have achieved a lot in the past months, and plan to do more, said Abdou Dieng, WFP’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “But an operation of this scope and complexity requires sustained funding to maintain momentum.”
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