Hunger: People risk resorting to survival sex, child labour in Nigeria, UN raises the alarm

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Hunger: People risk resorting to survival sex, child labour in Nigeria, UN raises the alarm

The United Nations resident and humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, Matthias Schmale, has said a lot of displaced persons in the north-east risk resorting to survival sex, child labour, and begging due to acute malnutrition.

Schmale, in a statement on Friday, said he visited El-Miskin internally displaced persons camp in Maiduguri, Borno state capital, and was alarmed by the impact that conflict was having on “vulnerable people, particularly children”.

He said the people at the camp were among the 4.4 million people who would need emergency food assistance during the lean season from June to August.

“I am alarmed by the impact that continued conflict is having on vulnerable people, in particular on children, in north-east Nigeria.

“Yesterday, I visited El-Miskin Camp in Maiduguri, Borno state, where approximately 7,200 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have sought safety. The food situation is severe for many families in the camp due to a lack of funding for operations.

“Women told me that they had not received food assistance in more than three months and they are struggling to feed their families. Some children described going for several days without eating enough. Mothers were telling me that their children go to bed crying from hunger.

“In the outpatient therapeutic feeding programme, they were also telling me that they are already seeing dozens of admissions of children with acute malnutrition. This is unacceptable.

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“The people I met in El-Miskin are among an estimated 4.4 million people who will need sustained emergency food assistance this lean season (the peak hunger period between planting and harvesting from June to August) in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states, according to the October 2022 Cadre Harmonisé food and nutrition analysis. Partners I met with are ringing the alarm bells, months ahead of the lean season as worryingly malnutrition figures are starting to increase,” he said.

Schmale said acute malnutrition was expected to double in Nigeria when compared to that of 2022 which affected 690,000 children.

He decried the high rate of out-of-school children living in the IDP camp, calling for more effort to support the government in providing all children with access to education to secure a better future for them.

“Severe acute malnutrition is expected to double compared to last year, affecting some 690,000 children. Government and the humanitarian community must redouble efforts to prevent this from happening.

“Financial resources are needed now to take the necessary actions to save their lives. Without assistance, cases of life-threatening severe acute malnutrition will increase, and more people will resort to negative coping mechanisms such as begging, survival sex and child labour to survive.

“In El-Miskin Camp, I was also saddened to see so many children out of school. Over 4,000 school-age children in the camp have not been able to go to school in years. Only one of the 17 women I met in the camp could read or write.

“We must not let this generation, a generation affected by war and deprivation, be a lost generation. The children I met wanted to be doctors and teachers, jobs that Nigeria urgently needs to fill and bring stability and prosperity to the north-east.

“We must strengthen our efforts to support the authorities in providing all children with access to education. They will otherwise be deprived of a better future and will never be able to realise their potential, their dreams and aspirations,” he said.

Schmale called on donors, the private sector and well-meaning individuals to provide additional funding and resources to enable humanitarian organisations and governments to deliver assistance to save lives, improve living conditions and protect those most in need ahead of the lean season.

Hunger: People risk resorting to survival sex, child labour in Nigeria, UN raises the alarm

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