Nigerians in need of food aid ’to double’ to 5 million in September

Published by AFP
On 21 August 2016 saa 12:12
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Collapse in crude prices has reverberated across the country.

The number of people in northeast Nigeria who need food aid could nearly double within a month, as the Boko Haram insurgency and economic pressures intensify suffering, the UN has said.

“A crisis fuelled by years of radical Islamist violence has left more than three million people in the northeast in a state of moderate or severe food insecurity,” said Bettina Luescher, spokeswoman for the World Food Programme.

But tough economic conditions in Nigeria — caused by low oil prices and surging inflation — could see that number rise to 5.5 million next month, Luescher told reporters.

“We are very concerned about where this crisis is going,” she said.

Nigeria’s economy remains overwhelmingly reliant on oil production and the collapse in crude prices has reverberated across the country.

The naira fell to a record low this week, approaching 350 against the dollar. It has lost nearly 40 per cent of its value since June 20, when the government of President Muhammadu Buhari (left) abandoned efforts to keep it around 200 against the dollar.

“In Borno state, the epicentre of the insurgency, prices have gone up 50 to 100 percent,” Luescher said.

The UN and other humanitarian agencies have increasingly sounded the alarm over the extent of the crisis facing civilians.

When Boko Haram violence was at its peak through 2013 and 2014, humanitarian workers had almost no access to the hardest-hit areas, making it difficult to assess the extent of the needs.

With the Nigerian military making gains against the extremists in recent months, access and information have improved.

The WFP is ramping up its operations, giving cash to civilians who can buy food at markets and food aid to those with no access to marketplaces.

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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who on August 12, 2016 told visiting United Nations Population Fund officials that his country is broke, an effect of plummeting oil prices.