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Food & Hunger

Funds to Help Nigeria’s Famine Will Run Out by June, UN Official Says

Last February, governments from around the world convened with United Nations agencies in Oslo, Norway and pledged $672M for humanitarian aid in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, which includes Niger, Cameroon, and Chad. But pledging the funds and actually providing them are two completely different things.

Humanitarian aid organizations working to relieve famine in Nigeria need the funds that were pledged to them right now. If they aren’t delivered, it will be a matter of weeks until the organizations run out of money, a United Nations official said on Monday.

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“As it stands right now we believe we are running out of money by June-July,” Peter Lundberg, the UN’s deputy humanitarian coordinator for Nigeria, told VOA News, adding that the delay in funding is due to bureaucratic reasons.

The World Food Program is in the greatest need for funding, said Lundberg.

“With the money they have right now, and if they won’t cut rations, they can only go to May 18,” a WFP official told Reuters, though they were “reasonably certain” they would get enough funding to last until late June.

The organization needs $207 million for Nigeria during the next six months to continue its aid missions.  

Read More: 14 Photos of Staggering Famine in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen

So far, the UN’s 2017 Nigeria humanitarian response plan has received $179.5 million of the more than $1 billion needed, according to UNOCHA.    

WFP says 4.7 million people need rations to survive in northeast Nigeria, where the terrorist group Boko Haram has operated since 2009.

Nigeria is one of four countries in urgent need of famine relief. The others are Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen. Across these nations, more than 20 million people face malnourishment and starvation due to a combination of drought, crop failures, and conflict. In March, the International Committee of the Red Cross warned millions would die in three to four months if the international community didn’t respond.

There is still a ways to go before humanitarian organization will have the money necessary to address the crises. Somalia has received 51.3% of its required funding. South Sudan has received 29.5%, while Yemen has received 15.7 %.

In Oslo last February, Norway, Canada, and the European Union pledged $192M, $146M, and $105M, respectively, to the Nigeria and Lake Chad region humanitarian response.

The United States has not pledged any new money, the Guardian reported, and may not anytime soon as the Trump administration seeks to make massive cuts to foreign aid. If approved, the proposed budget would handcuff aid operations in Nigeria.

Read More: UN Requests $2.1 Billion to Curb Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen

The UN is unable to reach an estimated 700,000 people in the more remote parts of Nigeria’s Borno State due to roadside bombs placed by Boko Haram, according to VOA News. Nevertheless, aid organizations maintain that every dollar raised will have a direct impact in alleviating famine.  

“When we are funded and able to get out to the field we are getting to people,” a WFP spokeswoman said. “This crisis can be averted and we want people to understand this will work if it’s funded. We can avert the famine.”