The European Union has allocated an additional €300,000 (N102billion) in humanitarian aid to provide life-saving treatment to over 280,000 undernourished children in Nigeria’s north-western states of Sokoto and Zamfara.
The funds released to help undernourished children that are affected by violence and forced displacement leading to a further deterioration of the situation will allow the United Nations’ Children Fund (UNICEF) to provide undernourished children and their mothers with immediate nutrition treatment.
UNICEF stated in a release that as many as 280,000 children under five years of age across Sokoto and Zamfara states are estimated to be suffering from severe acute malnutrition, which is a life-threatening condition adding that children are particularly vulnerable given the low vaccination rates against common childhood illnesses.
“In addition, both states regularly face cholera, yellow fever and meningitis outbreaks, while malaria is endemic and measles is recurrent,” it stated.
It will also equip mobile health teams to be sent out to strengthen the capacity of health facilities in delivering comprehensive basic health care services, including supportive medical supervision.
The Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management at UNICEF, Christos Stylianides, said the EU is stepping up its humanitarian assistance in Nigeria to help in addressing without delay child under-nutrition emergency that the northwest region is facing.
He added that the funding will contribute to deliver the much-needed treatment for children and improve access to basic health care.
“Timely help from the international community is essential to save children’s lives.
“Northwest Nigeria has seen an increase in violence over the last months that have exacerbated the already existing dire nutrition situation.
“Recurrent clashes have driven people to flee their homes in search of safety. These people leave everything behind, including their fields and their main source of subsistence.
“With communities in the region already struggling with the seasonal depletion of food reserves in-between harvests, the current lack of access to their fields means that they are likely to miss the next harvest, thereby putting further pressure on already strained food resources,” he added.
He said medical facilities in the area are already working at maximum capacity to deal with cases of severe acute malnutrition but mortality rates in such facilities are very high, as medical care is sought late, while many facilities are no longer running and or are no longer accessible due to increased insecurity.
Daily Trust reports that the European Union is one of the leading contributors of humanitarian aid in Nigeria. Since 2014, the EU has allocated almost €245 million to help the people in need in the country, including €28 million in 2019.
EU humanitarian aid funding provides immediate assistance to cover the basic needs of the most vulnerable internally displaced people and host communities in Nigeria, and of refugees in other countries affected by the Lake Chad Basin crisis, namely Chad (Lake region), Niger (Diffa region), and Cameroon (Far North region).