Over 5.6million children living across the Lake Chad basin are vulnerable to deadly water-borne diseases such as cholera and hepatitis E as the rainy season hits the region already reeling from Boko Haram’s insurgency. The United Nations (UN) gave the warning on Friday.
The United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF in a statement, signed by Marie Poirier said the 5.6 million children in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, many of whom have been uprooted by violence and live in host communities or refugee camps, are facing the disease threat as the rains arrive.
It said flooding and muddy roads are expected to limit aid access to remote areas, where hunger is growing and the food is lacking, while the insecurity has made it hard to deliver supplies and ensure clean water is available ahead of the rains.
“The rains will further complicate what is already a dire humanitarian situation, as millions of children made vulnerable by conflict are now facing the potential spread of opportunistic diseases.
“Unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene conditions can lead to cholera and hepatitis E.
“Staving off disease is our top priority,”it reads.
Cholera, which spreads through contaminated food and water, causes diarrhoea and vomiting, leaving small children especially vulnerable to death from dehydration, whereas liver disease Hepatitis E is particularly deadly for pregnant women.
No fewer than five million people in northeast Nigeria need food aid, and about 1.5 million are believed to be on the brink of famine, yet the UN in June, had to cut emergency food supplies for 400,000 people due to a lack of funding.