In West Africa’s Lake Chad region, a crisis that barely makes the headlines is unfolding.
Desertification and poverty, compounded by Boko Haram’s violence, have left 11 million people desperately in need of aid – more than 7 million surviving, if they can, on one meal a day.
Alarm bells about the humanitarian catastrophe in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger have been sounded by the United Nations.
At a news conference at the body’s headquarters in New York, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, Toby Lanzer, explained that the young and vulnerable are suffering most.
“At the moment, with 515,000 children across the Lake Chad region who, we know, are either or are about to be severely and acutely malnourished, if they don’t get the help they need, on time, they die,” he said.
Up to a million people have been cut off from humanitarian aid by Boko Haram despite a regional military offensive against the Islamist militants. Their insurgency has killed about 15,000 people and forced more than two million others to flee their homes.
The UN is calling for international solidarity with those caught up in the crisis in the Lake Chad basin.
A conference will be held in Oslo on February 24 to draw attention to their plight.