A September 28, 2016, press release from Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) characterized the humanitarian emergency in northeastern Nigeria as having reached “catastrophic levels.”
As Boko Haram’s territorial control continues to recede, MSF has released reports on horrific conditions in previously inaccessible areas. Included in these areas is Ngala, a refugee camp “cut off from the outside world” with eighty thousand internally displaced persons (IDPs). MSF conducted a nutritional screening in Ngala of some two thousand children under the age of five and determined that 10 percent were “suffering from life-threatening severe acute malnutrition.” In Maiduguri, the state capital of Borno and the metropolis of northeast Nigeria, MSF reports that more than half of the population of some 2.5 million is made up of IDPs. In another location an MSF screening found that one in five children were suffering from acute malnutrition: “The mortality rate is five time higher than what is considered an emergency, with the main cause being hunger.”
MSF characterizes the aid response as “massively insufficient, uncoordinated, and ill-adapted to the needs of the people.” The magnitude of the crisis in northeast Nigeria would appear to be too great for any country alone to face, even Nigeria, the Giant of Africa. President Muhammadu Buhari in his United Nations General Assembly address of September 20, acknowledged the role of international agencies: “Let me seize this opportunity to once again thank all UN and other aid agencies and development partners currently deployed in North East Nigeria.” But, clearly, the international effort must be scaled up dramatically.