Thursday, September 12,2019
The European Union has said that it is donating additional €300,000 (N102m) in humanitarian aid to provide life-saving treatment to undernourished children in Sokoto and Zamfara States. In a statement made available to journalists, the EU explained that the funds would allow the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), to provide undernourished children and their mothers with immediate nutrition treatment. According to the EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, ‘’the EU is stepping up its humanitarian assistance in Nigeria to help in addressing without delay the child undernutrition emergency that the northwest region is facing. “Our 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’’. About 280,000 children under five years of age across the states of Sokota and Zamfara are estimated to be suffering from severe acute malnutrition, which is a life-threatening condition. 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. Northwest Nigeria has seen an increase in violence over the last months that has 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. Medical facilities in the area are already working at maximum capacity to deal with cases of severe acute malnutrition. 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. The 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).