The United Nations’ World Food Programme could in a few weeks run out of funding to feed millions living on the brink of famine in Nigeria, four people familiar with the matter said, intensifying one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises.
In the northeast, 4.7 million people, many of them refugees from the conflict with Islamist insurgency Boko Haram, need rations to survive, according to the World Food Programme (WFP), one of the main aid groups handing out food. Many of those living in camps for displaced people say they already barely get enough to eat.
“With the money they have right now, and if they won’t cut rations, they can only go to May 18,” one person said, citing talks with the WFP, who asked to not be named because they were not authorised to speak to media.
The WFP was “reasonably certain” it would get enough funding to last until late June, the person added.
“All humanitarian crises globally are woefully underfunded and for WFP Nigeria is in one of the worst situations for funding,” a WFP spokeswoman said.
“We are trying to save lives. We need over the next six months $207 million for Nigeria. At the moment the programme is 13 percent funded for 2017. It’s extremely low. Of the four countries facing famine it is the least funded.”
The conflict with Islamist insurgency Boko Haram, which seeks to establish a caliphate in Nigeria’s northeast, began in 2009 and shows no sign of ending. It has killed more than 20,000 people and displaced more than two million.
Nigeria’s northeast is now teetering on the brink of famine, aid organisations say, pointing to two years of missed crop harvests in what was once a breadbasket for the country, and the high likelihood of missing a third.