Photograph — The Sheet

The United Nations is countering reports that claim it plans to suspend its humanitarian efforts in delivering food aid to internally displaced persons in Borno State. This comes after Thursday’s attack on one of its humanitarian aid convoys in the area. A United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) worker, two Nigerian soldiers, and an International Organisation for Migration (IOM) staff all sustained injuries following the attack by Boko Haram insurgents.

According to Jean Gough, the UN representative for UNICEF Nigeria, the “heartless attack” will not prevent the organisation from attempting to cater to the millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance in northeastern Nigeria. This comment was confirmed and supported by the Deputy Governor of Borno State, Alhaji Usman Mamman Durkwa, at a press briefing in Maiduguri on Friday. However, the organisation also disclosed, through a press release on the same day, that UN staff will not be travelling to high risk areas such as Borno State for a while.

UNICEF has been working to provide food for malnourished children, as well as tackle other health concerns for both children and adults in the northeast of Nigeria who have been affected by the violent activities of Boko Haram. Currently, 56,000 children and millions of IDPs in northeastern Nigeria have benefitted from UNICEF’s efforts towards the eradication of starvation. Still, around two million IDPs continue to starve in certain communities based on the security threat posed by Boko Haram, according to the Regional Director of UNICEF for Western and Central Africa, Manuel Fontaine.

Food security remains one of the biggest problems for IDPs in northeastern Nigeria, after farms, markets, and food stock were destroyed by the violence in the region. Thousands of IDPs – particularly children – have died from malnutrition, with 188 dying between the months of May and June this year. Yet, efforts to provide food aid for IDPs in the region remain strained for reasons such as the attack on the UN convoy on Thursday.

Last week, the UN was able to deliver food to the town of Banki in Borno for the first time in four months because of incessant deadly Boko Haram attacks in the region. On the first of July, Jean Gough stated that one in five children in northeast Nigeria will die regularly if the situation does not improve. The organisation continues to call on donors and other humanitarian organisations to assist in the efforts to try to reach save IDPs in inaccessible areas in the conflict-ridden region.

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