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US pledges $37m aid for Boko Haram victims

The United States on Wednesday pledged $37m in aid for victims of Boko Haram, government officials said, as fears of a famine mounted in the ravaged Lake Chad region.

Despite Boko Haram losing swathes of territory in the northeast as a result of a renewed military offensive, millions are still going hungry after years of attacks disrupted farming and supplies.

The United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said on July 1 that 250,000 children under five in Borno state were at risk from severe acute malnutrition this year and 50,000 could die if nothing was done.

IDPs-in-Nigeria

The US government will provide “more than $37m in additional humanitarian assistance” the United States Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria in Abuja said. “Approximately five million people need emergency food assistance.”

The money for food would be directed to communities in the Diffa region of Niger and is part of a coordinated effort to get more food into the area.

Returning this week from a trip to Chad, Nigeria, and Cameroon, the regional director of the World Food Programme, Abdou Dieng, told AFP that “the crisis of Boko Haram is just beginning.”

“There are many places where humanitarian aid can’t reach because of insecurity,” Dieng said, adding that Boko Haram attacked a UN convoy just last week. “But we are even more determined to stay.”

Dieng estimated that around $600m is needed to address the crisis but that so far “less than a third of that money has been received”.

The Boko Haram insurgency has claimed more than 20,000 lives since it began its quest for a independent, fundamentalist Islamist state in 2009 in northeast Nigeria. The conflict has spread to Niger, Chad and Cameroon, forcing more than 2.6 million people from their homes.

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