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World Food Program (WFP) Warns of Severe Funding Shortfall in Nigeria that can endanger lives of 4.7 million people affected by Hunger

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FILE - A mother feeds her malnourished child at a feeding center in Maiduguri, Nigeria, Aug. 29, 2016. VOA
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Africa, April 19, 2017: The World Food Program is sounding the alarm over a severe funding shortfall in Nigeria that could endanger the lives of 4.7 million people affected by hunger in the nation’s volatile northeast.

The U.N. agency has received just under 15 percent of the $416 million it needs for its operations in Nigeria this year.

In the next five or six months, says WFP Acting Regional Communications Officer Elizabeth Bryant, the U.N. agency needs $200 million to keep feeding Nigeria’s hunger-stricken population.

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Experts predict that the annual lean season — usually, the waiting period before the next harvest — could come as early as May, after two years of failed harvests in the agricultural northeast, Bryant told VOA, adding that funding needs are urgent.

FILE – This view shows one of the biggest camps for people displaced by Islamist extremists in Maiduguri, Nigeria, Aug. 28, 2016. VOA

“We need it now, ” she said from Dakar, “so that … we have food lined up, that we’re prepared. And in fact, the food is there, we just need to have the money to be able to buy it and distribute it to people in need.”

The agency has contingency plans which include reducing rations, Bryant says, but officials are appealing to donors to act now to prevent the situation from becoming a famine.

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“At that point, a lot of lives have already been lost,” she said, “and the other thing is it costs a lot more, financially, to react to … a famine, than to try to avoid one.”

Nigeria is one of four nations on the brink of famine. Yemen, South Sudan and Somalia are also facing dire hunger, in what U.N. officials say is the largest humanitarian crisis since the international body’s creation.

The insecurity and mass displacement caused by the now seven-year Boko Haram conflict in northeastern Nigeria has brought farming to a near halt. Some parts of Borno state have been off-limits to aid workers due to fighting.

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The Nigerian government’s chief humanitarian coordinator, Dr. Ayoade Alakija, told VOA that this is not just a threat to Africa’s most populous nation. It is also a threat to millions of families in Chad, Niger and Cameroon who rely on Nigerian agriculture.

“Because these people would farm, and they would farm their millet and their maize and their beans — and it would be exported to those other countries and that was how they got their livelihoods. But also, that is how those countries got their food,” Alakija said.

In an op-ed published Friday in the French newspaper Le Monde, the U.N. deputy humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria warned that a suspension of relief efforts in northeastern Nigeria could render the area more vulnerable to the spread of extremism. (VOA)

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UN Report on Rohingya Hunger Crisis Suspended on Order of Myanmar Government

The current crisis began on August 25 when Rohingya insurgents attacked police checkpoints on Myanmar's Rakhine state and killed 12 security personnel.

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Rohingya
Rohingya refugees collect aid supplies including food and medicine, sent from Malaysia, at Kutupalang Unregistered Refugee Camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, Feb. 15, 2017, VOA

United Nations, October 17, 2017: The UN food aid agency withdrew a critical report revealing desperate hunger among the Rohingya Muslim minority after the Myanmar government ordered it to be taken down, the media reported on Tuesday.

The July assessment by the World Food Programme (WFP) warned that more than 80,000 children under the age of five were “wasting” – a potentially fatal condition of rapid weight loss, reports the Guardian.

The six-page document has since been replaced with a statement saying Myanmar and WFP were “collaborating on a revised version”.

That process would involve “representatives from various ministries, and will respond to the need for a common approach” that was in line with “WFP’s future cooperation with the government”.

When asked why the July report was removed, the WFP said it was withdrawn from the website “following a request by the government to conduct a joint review”, the Guardian reported.

In a statement, the agency said: “The WFP stands by its original assessment, which was conducted jointly with local authorities in Rakhine state… However WFP recognises that in a dynamic and evolving situation, it is important to coordinate closely with all partners, including the government.”

Meanwhile, the UN’s most senior official in the country is scheduled to leave at the end of the month amid allegations she suppressed another report and also attempted to shut down public advocacy on Rohingya suffering.

The current crisis began on August 25 when Rohingya insurgents attacked police checkpoints on Myanmar’s Rakhine state and killed 12 security personnel.

It resulted in over half a million Rohingya fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh, many alleging that the Myanmar Army conducted a counter-offensive that included mass killings and rapes.(IANS)