The World Food Programme (WFP) has announced plans to scale up food assistance across Borno and Yobe states from one million persons to 1.3 million beneficiaries monthly.
Addressing a news conference in Abuja, the Executive Director of the WFP, Ertharin Cousin said that the programme aims to reach 1.8 million persons who urgently need food assistance in the northeast.
According to statistics from the World Food Programme, over 1.7 million people are displaced in northeast Nigeria, 4.4 million suffer food insecurity while 1.8 million people urgently need food assistance.
On November 7, 2016, the World Food Programme launched its special operation to support the federal government in addressing the humanitarian challenges.
The initial project duration of six months from November 1, 2016 to April 30, 2017 has now been extended to December 31, 2017.
This, according to the Executive Director of the programme will enable the programme meet its monthly target of providing food assistance to at least 1.3 million people on a monthly basis.
She also announced plans by the programme to provide cash assistance to Internally Displaced Persons to enable them purchase their own foodstuff.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Nigeria, has assured the World Food Programme (WFP) of its support to ensure transparency in the administration of relief materials to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the northeast.
The commission’s acting Chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu, pledged the anti-graft agency’s support on Friday in Abuja.
Mr Magu said the Commission would dedicate a desk for the WFP in order to facilitate unhindered administration of its intervention efforts.
Earlier, the Assistant Executive Director of the WFP, Roberto DaSilva, had urged the EFCC to ensure transparency, credibility and accountability in the disbursement of funds and purchase of food items to the northeast.
Silva, who led a delegation on a courtesy visit to Magu in Abuja, said: “The Programme focuses on food assistance with humanitarian and social objectives.
“We were in the process of identifying where the World Food Programme presence could support Nigeria, but the situation in the North-East of Nigeria changed our plans. However, we are back now”.
He added that the Programmes was targeted at over 700,000 individuals, including 20, 000 children.
According to him, “as a result of the commitment we have undertaken, we are introducing a series of food assistance, one of them is where a financial transfer takes place to enable them buy food or where we admit any need for assistance in purchase of food.
“We will be disbursing millions of dollars to Nigeria. Half of it will be a cash transfer and the other half is to purchase food items for the two states: Borno and Yobe. It is on this note that we have reached out to the EFCC”.
Silva, who stated that the collaboration between the EFCC and the WFP would ensure the prevention of fraud, added that “there is a need to scale-up and maintain integrity so that more work can be achieved.
“Our expectation is that we establish a Memorandum of Understanding that clearly outlines how we can cooperate together to ensure integrity and deter fraud from happening”.
He disclosed that offices had been set up in Abuja and Maiduguri “with hopes of bringing in 80 to 100 professionals from Nigeria to run the offices in Borno and Yobe”.
The United Nations had raised concerns of acute malnutrition in the northeast ravaged by over six years of insurgency perpetrated by Boko Haram terrorists.
UNICEF said it feared 49,000 children, pregnant women and nursing mothers may die before the end of 2016 if nothing was done to remedy the already dire situation.
The agency had called for more nutritious food and community mobilisers that would go from door to door in the affected region to get the affected children to places they could be treated are some of the aid UNICEF said would help address the situation triggered by Boko Haram insurgency.
‘Skin Over Bones’
The Chief Nutrition Section of UNICEF Nigeria, Arjan De Wagt, told Channels Television that aid to the malnourished children had been hampered by insecurity in the region.
According to him, 240,000 children are severely malnourished with their ‘skin over their bones’.
“They are so severely malnourished that if nothing is being done they are at a very high risk of dying.
“About one out of five of these children will die if they don’t receive these special support that they need,” he stated.
Mr Wagt said a total of 49,000 persons, including some pregnant and nursing mothers, could die before the end of the year.
The Yobe State government has expressed delight at partnering with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), to address the plights of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
The government reveals that the collaboration is aimed at providing food and rehabilitative services to the IDPs in Yobe State, being one of the troubled states by the Boko Haram insurgents in northeast Nigeria.
The Deputy Governor of the state, Mr Abubakar Aliyu, made the remarks when he met with representatives of the humanitarian organisations on Thursday, to discuss the future of the partnerships.
Giving an account of their largesse, Mr Aliyu said that since peace began to return to the troubled region, humanitarian agencies have increased their activities.
He added that at least 300,000 persons displaced by the activities of the Boko Haram terrorists had received aid in the form of food, water supply and medical attention.
The Deputy Governor also commended the humanitarian organisations for their assistance in increasing their capacity for further humanitarian works in Yobe State.
In their responses, the Director of UNICEF, West and Central Africa, Gianfranco Rotigliano, and the WFP Director of Emergencies, Denise Brown, commended the initiative.
They said they were impressed with the state government’s data gathering and promised to scale up assistance to the IDPs.
The residents of the besieged Damascus suburb of Darayya have welcomed the first deliveries of food aid to reach the city since 2012.
The latest delivery to Darayya was made by teams from the Syrian Red Crescent and the United Nations’ humanitarian body.
The UN’s special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said on Thursday that the Syrian government had given permission for aid to be delivered to 19 besieged areas, where an estimated 600,000 people live.
Trucks carrying medicine, food and flour entered the town that was among the first to report protests against President Bashar Al-assad’s Government.
The operations director of the Syrian Red Crescent, Tamam Mehrez, also told AFP that the goods would be enough for residents for one month.
An official with the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) said that he had met some beneficiaries of the food aid and community leaders.
“The supply of the very basic commodities is very challenging, so as a consequence the prices of the commodities themselves are very high whenever they are available,” he said.
The delivery of food supplies came a week after a joint convoy of the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross and SARC reached Daraya and delivered medicine, vaccines, baby formula, and “nutritional items for children” but no food.
However, violence was reported on Friday in the rebel-held area as crude barrel bombs have been dropped on the suburb, according to the Local Council of Daraya.
This came just hours after the food aid was delivered to its residents
Daraya has been under siege since November 2012 and has witnessed some of the worst bombardment during Syria’s civil war, now in its sixth year.
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The World Food Programme will help to feed nearly 6.5 million Ethiopians in 2014, the U.N. agency said on Tuesday, with the country hit by locusts, neighboring war and sparse rainfall.
“We are concerned because there is the beginning of a locust invasion in the eastern part of the country, and if it’s not properly handled it could be of concern for the pastoralist population living there,” WFP Spokeswoman, Elizabeth Byrs, told a U.N. briefing in Geneva.
“And in the northern part of Ethiopia there has been less rain than average for the third or fourth consecutive year.”
Ethiopia is also dealing with growing refugee numbers due to the conflict in neighboring South Sudan, sapping WFP’s budget for feeding new arrivals in the country, which is at risk of a shortfall as soon as next month.
More than 120,000 South Sudanese have crossed over into Ethiopia in the past six months, mostly women and children who are arriving “famished, exhausted and malnourished”, WFP said in a statement.
The recent influx has brought total refugee numbers to 500,000 in Ethiopia. The U.N. also provides food for millions of needy or undernourished Ethiopians, including 670,000 school children and 375,000 in HIV/AIDS programs.
Ethiopia’s overall situation has vastly improved over recent years and the economy now ranks as one of the fastest growing in Africa. But deep problems remain.
Malnutrition has stunted the growth of 2 out of every 5 Ethiopian children and reduced the country’s workforce by 8 percent, WFP said, citing Ethiopian government data.
The International Monetary Fund expects Ethiopia’s economy to grow 7.5 percent in each of the next two fiscal years but says the government needs to encourage more private sector investment to prevent growth rates from falling thereafter.