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LAGOS (ChurchMilitant.com) - Thousands of children are dying in northeastern Nigeria from disease and starvation, according to a new report from Doctors Without Borders. Tuesday, the humanitarian group explained that the violence and chaos from Boko Haram's attacks over the past seven years has led to a dearth in medical supplies and food. Children under five are bearing the brunt of this shortage, as thousands are being ravaged by disease and malnutrition.
Doctors Without Borders says the situation has become a humanitarian crisis, with critical aid and supplies being desperately needed. Natalie Roberts, emergency program manager for northeast Nigeria, emphasized the lack of young children in refugee camps. She commented, "We only saw older brothers and sisters. No toddlers are straddling their big sister's' hips. No babies strapped to their mums' backs. It's as if they have just vanished."
Peter Lundgren, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator, remarked, "Currently our assessment is that 14 million people are identified as in need of humanitarian assistance."
"When we conducted a food distribution in a camp, it was the first food these 8,000 people had received in four months," the report said. "In some locations malnutrition rates were as high as those recorded in the conflict zones." This information reveals a growing crisis in Nigeria, with the crisis possibly being aggravated by corruption and mishandling of emergency food aid.
The report also confirmed the difficult situation children are in. "Our triage was overwhelmed by the number of children under five years old. They are the most vulnerable," stated the report. As many as 75,000 children could die within the year if adequate funding and supplies aren't provided for the region.
The UN is confirming that $1 billion will be needed for the rest of this year and for 2017 for Nigeria, as the UN's appeal for money is only 38 percent funded.
Over the past seven years, more than 1 million children have been forced from their homes owing to violence, as the region of northeastern Nigeria has been devastated by Boko Haram. Ben Foot, the director of Save the Children Nigeria, commented,
The international community needs to wake up to the scale of the crisis unfolding in north-east Nigeria. We need a humanitarian response plan of at least $1 billion for the end of 2016, into 2017. That's double the amount requested this year, and only one third of that request was met. Repeating this performance will cost thousands of children their lives.
Although the situation is at a difficult juncture, Boko Haram has slowly lost the influence and territory it once had. Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme, head of the diocese of Maiduguri, argues that the reason for this is the power of the Rosary. Bishop Doeme reported that he experienced a vision of our Blessed Lord handing him a sword, with the sword being transformed into a Rosary. After this, our Blessed Lord said three times, "Boko Haram is gone." Since then, Boko Haram, once nearly indefeatible, has gradually lost its hold and is now confined to the fringes, but the repercussions of its actions are still being felt by the Nigeria's most vulnerable.