The United Nations Humanitarian organisation, The World Food Programme, WFP, says help and funding are needed for millions of people in Nigeria who have been hit severely by the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic, including conflict-hit communities in the north-east states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
WFP senior spokesperson, Elisabeth Byrs, said more than $182 million is needed to sustain lifesaving aid to Nigeria over the next six months, especially to the vulnerable people in the Northeast.
“We are concerned by conflict-affected communities in northeast Nigeria who already face extreme hunger and who are especially vulnerable. They are on life-support and need assistance to survive” Byrs said.
According to the WFP, the three states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe tagged the
“BAY states”, have been plagued by a decade-long insurgency that has spilt over
into the Lake Chad region.
“It remains among the most severe humanitarian crises in the world, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), with about 7.9 million mainly women and children in need of urgent assistance today.
“That’s why WFP is distributing two months’ worth of food and nutrition assistance in IDP camps and among vulnerable communities to ensure that people have enough food while they are on full or partial lockdown”, Ms Byrs said, outlining plans to help a total of 1.8 million people there.
The organisation noted that the latest World Health Organization (WHO) data indicates that Nigeria has seen more than 12,800 confirmed cases of new coronavirus and over 360 deaths linked to the disease.
“More than 3.8 million people mainly working in the informal sector, face losing their jobs amid rising hardship, and this could rise to 13 million if movement restrictions continue for a longer period.
“This would add to the almost 20 million (23 per cent of the labour force) already out of work,” the WFP spokesperson said
The WFP spokesperson further explained that three million individuals among the most vulnerable will receive help, with additional support to government social protection systems in the cities of Abuja, Kano and Lagos – places where the agency has not been present until now.
“We are actually scaling up our operations in the Northeast to serve more people in response to the new challenges of more food insecurity posed by COVID-19.
“However, there have been a few delays with COVID-19 containment movement restrictions that are affecting supply chains. These have been generally managed and we have continued providing assistance. We continue to appeal to all parties to ensure access to people in need and respect humanitarian space.” Ms Byrs added.
Take-home food solution
The WFP said its involvement has included re-adjusting school meals programmes during school closures by providing food to take home. The initiative kicked off in the federal capital Abuja and the commercial capital Lagos, in mid-May.
The programme – led by Nigeria’s Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs – aims to reach nine million children in three million homes across the country’s 36 states, where school closures have affected some 39 million youngsters.
The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies, building prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.
Source: Voice of Nigeria