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Nigeria faces famine unlike any ever seen anywhere

Mal-nourished Nigerian kid at a feeding center in Maiduguri
Mal-nourished Nigerian kid at a feeding center in Maiduguri

Nigeria is on the brink of a famine unlike any humankind has ever seen anywhere.

According to the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General, Toby Lanzer, nearly a quarter of a million children in Nigeria's north east are severely malnourished.

Mr. Lanzer said millions more are thought to be starving in refugee camps, where they are too dangerous for aid agencies to reach.

Nigeria is already economically struggling as the West African nation is in a recession for the first time in more than a decade.

Inflation is at an 11-year high and oil, which makes up 70% of the government's revenue, is still suffering from a slump.

For the country's north eastern region, however, things are made worse by the Islamic militant group, Boko Haram.

The militant group has disrupted trade and farming in the region and is also hostile to western medicine.

Mr Lanzer said, if Nigeria doesn't get help fast, "we will see, I think, a famine unlike any we have ever seen anywhere."

Speaking at a meeting in Brussels, Belgium, Mr Lanzer said of the millions who haven't yet been reached: "We can't assess their situation and estimate that it's awful."

An American midwife, Jean Stowell, told the Associated Press: "These are kids who have basically been hungry all their lives and some are so far gone that they die here in the first 24 hours."

Ms. Stowell is in charge of a 110-bed feeding center in Maiduguri, the largest city in the region.

The Doctors Without Borders-run center tries to keep up with demand, but every time it grows, the extra places are rapidly taken.

There are around a million people in Maiduguri's camps, most of them fleeing the reach of the terrorist group and many of them are at the same time struggling with hunger.

Yet, outside the camps, the markets are filled with fruit and vegetables that are very expensive for the average refugee.

The Nigerian Government is investigating claims that officials have been stealing food aid.



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