Close to 50,000 children are in danger of starving to death in Nigeria due to a scorched-earth policy by the brutal Islamist group Boko Haram, according to UNICEF, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
In addition, close to 250,000 people are severely malnourished in Borno state. In total, 4.4 million people are affected by the terror inflicted on the population by the group, an affiliate of the Islamic State in West Africa. Half of those people live in areas inaccessible to relief agencies.
Northeastern Nigeria was once the breadbasket of the entire country, with its fertile ground, abundant water and climate suitable for growing crops all year long. The region produced rice, maize, wheat, millet, sorghum, cowpeas, fruits, peppers, chilies and vegetables. Fish from Lake Chad was sold throughout the country’s marketplaces.
Now, Boko Haram, whose militants kidnapped entire swaths of the population, burned villages and massacred tens of thousands, has left a wasteland behind. Crops that were growing were abandoned as the populations able to flee left the area to save themselves.
“We lost our farmlands and produce to Boko Haram and [were] reduced to a life of begging. We left our produce on the farm, in silos and stores in the market. But all that is gone, we have nothing left,” said Umar Bate, the head of the farmer’s union in Doron Baga on Lake Chad.
Boko Haram’s assault on Dorn Baga, Baga and two towns close by left at least 2,000 dead, including 250 farmers in the union, with satellite pictures showing 3,700 houses destroyed. All markets are closed. Crops left behind were looted by the terror group.
The lake is now brimming with fish but we dare not go back and harvest it because of fear of Boko Haram attack,” said Gamandi, a fisherman who heads the Borno fishermen’s union.
"We were forced to flee the town to save our lives, leaving everything we owned. All our fishing equipment, such as fishing boats, nets and other accessories were lost to Boko Haram. I lost my house, my capital and stock of smoked fish. I now have to start from scratch,” said Abubakar Gamandi, a fisherman on Lake Chad.
“Security conditions do change on a daily basis, but we are reaching areas that were not accessible before and we are scaling up our response in Borno state,” said Toby Fricker, a UNICEF spokesman.
“As we reach these areas, the true extent of the humanitarian crisis is being revealed.”