Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders (MSF) has issued a press release that it has just delivered 810 metric tons of food to Maiduguri in northeast Nigeria. The organization estimates that it will feed 26,000 families for two weeks. MSF is primarily a medical organization. But, according to its press announcement, it is now delivering food because “there are people in desperate need. Other organizations were not stepping up until now, and MSF was obliged to fill the gap.”
MSF runs two large medical facilities in Maiduguri, two therapeutic feeding centers for malnourished children, and trucks in 80,000 to 100,000 liters of water every day. It estimates that Maiduguri now hosts more than one million refugees.
MSF notes that the food security and health situation will worsen in March, the start of the annual “lean season” in Nigeria. A MSF medical doctor, Javed Ali, says: “There is a lethal interplay between the lean and rainy seasons. Just as people’s immunity falls as nutrients in their diet decrease, the number of infections rises. This is particularly difficult for children and can leave them very vulnerable to developing severe malnutrition with complications.”
In the aftermath of sounding the alarm over Ebola in West Africa, MSF has particular credibility. The fact that it is now delivering food–not its usual focus–indicates that the humanitarian emergency in northeast Nigeria remains out of control.