Giuseppe Inglima, Franklin & Marshall College

Being told to never waste your dinner because there are starving children in Africa is not just a myth so kids will eat their vegetables. In African countries like Nigeria, the hunger crisis is at an all-time high.

Over 120,000 people are facing starvation in Northern Nigeria. Threatened by the Boko Haram Islamist group, thousands of women and children had no choice but to flee their villages. These staggering numbers are a plea for help from the Nigerian people, and the Nigerian government must cooperate with agencies like the United Nations if they want to see any improvement.

If the Nigerian government supported the United Nations, they would provide funding and a surplus of food sources to organizations like Doctors Without Borders, as well as their French counterpart, Médecins Sans Frontières.

With that kind of aid, starvation and disease would be attacked head on.

Aid agencies have stated that most children under the age of five have now perished from hunger.

The infants and toddlers being treated for conditions like measles, pneumonia, and malaria seem to more closely resemble child-sized skeletons than human beings.

Starvation severely weakens the immune system, so it is no surprise that children are dying from these conditions at such a rapid rate. Full stomachs will improve immune systems, which will ultimately result in fewer cases of measles, pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria.

Even though the intentions of Doctors Without Borders is to provide medical care, “the organization has had no choice but to distribute grains like millet, as well as palm oil and peanut paste”, according to Dr. Natalie Roberts, an emergency operations manager.

One should believe that the Nigerian government is doing everything in its power to combat starvation, right?

Wrong.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari accused the UN for “exaggerating” the country’s crisis.

Kevin Watkins, chief executive of Save the Children, stated that unless emergency measures are taken, 200 children would die every day over the next year.

73,000 children are estimated to die, without even including their sick and malnourished teenage and adult family members.

This is a continental crisis. Wake up President Buhari.

Boko Haram has killed the families of these starving children, running them out of their villages, leaving millions as homeless refugees.

Instead of rejecting the UN’s assessment of the situation, the Nigerian government needs to take initiative. At the very least, the President needs to seek the help of agencies able to mitigate the effect of this food crisis.

It is an embarrassment for the most populous country in Africa to have such alarming starvation rates. Further, I strongly believe that President Buhari has done more than a half-assed job at trying to keep these issues under control.

If President Buhari does not want to be held responsible for thousands of deaths of Nigerian children, he better act quickly.

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Sources:

Tens of thousands of children at risk of starvation in Nigeria crisis, Patrick Kingsley and Sarah Boseley, TheGuardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/25/displaced-people-refugee-nigeria-starvation-death-un-boko-haram

Boko Haram’s forgotten victims return to a humanitarian disaster, Robin Lustig, TheGuardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/20/boko-haram-forgotten-victimd-humanitarian