U.N. doubles aid appeal for northeastern Nigeria to $1 billion

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The United Nations has doubled its appeal for humanitarian funding for northeast Nigeria to $1 billion in the year 2017 in a bid to reach nearly seven million people affected by the Islamist militant Boko Haram insurgency.

The militant group has killed 15,000 people and displaced more than two million people from their homes in a seven-year insurgency in the West African nation.

Nigerian military forces backed by troops from neighbouring states have, in the past few months, pushed Boko Haram out of areas they previously controlled, revealing thousands of people living in famine-like conditions.

The UN says about 75,000 children are at risk of starving to death in the region if aid does not reach them in the next few months.

“We will target 6.9 million people,” said Peter Lundberg, U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) deputy humanitarian coordinator, outlining the agency’s 2017 plan, adding that this would require $1 billion.

“That is a five-fold increase compared to the initial appeal of 2016. It is a more than doubling compared to the outcome appeal for 2016,” said Lundberg. He said OCHA planned to address nutrition, food, health and sanitation needs of people in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa – the three states worst hit by the insurgency.

OCHA sought $484 million in 2016, having initially appealed for $248 million.

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