Hundreds of thousands of children could be pushed to “the brink of death” this year because of continued raids and kidnappings on farmers by armed groups, an aid agency has warned.
The country is not producing enough food to stave off severe hunger, according to Save the Children.
Between January and June this year, armed groups killed more than 128 farmers and kidnapped 37 others, across Nigeria, the organisation said.
In June alone, 19 farmers were killed by non-state armed groups in Nigeria’s Borno State, North East Nigeria, the non-governmental organisation (NGO) added.
The Boko Haram insurgency that has lasted for over a decade has continued to take a toll. Women and children are most at risk.
“An estimated two million children under five across the northeastern Nigerian states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe are likely to be pushed into acute malnutrition in 2023, with about 700,000 children on the brink of death,” the aid agency said.
They steal everything
It quoted a man, Bulama who has worked as a farmer in Borno saying some of his friends have been kidnapped and others killed in the last few years.
“They have killed and stolen our farm produce, leaving us helpless and with nothing to take home. The hunger and starvation most of us suffer in this community are because insurgents deprive us of accessing the farmlands, and even when we risk our lives in our fields, they steal everything and allow us to starve,” the farmer said.
The children’s aid organisation also predicted that more people may be pushed to hunger “due to extreme weather events that are getting more frequent and severe due to the climate crisis.”
Famari Barro, Save the Children’s Country Director for Nigeria, said, “These violent attacks against farmers in Nigeria are exacerbating the already dire hunger crisis in the country, especially in the north where millions of children do not know where their next meal will come from. Armed groups committing these ruthless acts are not only disrupting food production but also pushing children to the brink.
“Urgent action must prioritise the needs of children to stop this devastating trend and protect innocent lives. If not, armed groups will continue to carry out brutal attacks, drive food prices, and push more families to starvation.”
In a 2022 report, Save the Children noted that Nigeria has one of the highest numbers of children that suffer from crisis and conflicts induced by climate change.
In May, United Nations representatives rang an alarm, saying it needed about $400 million to avert the impending hunger crisis that looms in the country’s Northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
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