Refugees and returnees who have fled Boko Haram violence in Borno State, Nigeria, sheltering in Niger’s Guesser? village on the border. Photo: IRIN/Anna Jefferys

With thousands of families being driven from their homes by the violence spreading through north-eastern Nigeria, United Nations agencies and their partners are providing humanitarian aid to those who have escaped and crossed the border into Cameroon.

According to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), the frequent violent attacks in the region have displaced some 650,000 people in Adamawa, Yobe and Borno. Since May, more than 8,000 Nigerians from the area have fled to the remote north part of Cameroon.

Armed groups have caused destruction, including burning homes and kidnappings throughout the country, including in Borno, where 200 Nigerian school girls were kidnapped in April.

Food and shelter for those in need have been provided by local communities. However, their food stocks are running low and many are the people who began to be undernourished.

Alarming levels of malnutrition have been discovered by a report issued at the end of June, in particular among children, with malnutrition rates reaching 25 percent, well above the 15 percent of emergency threshold.

Due to the massive displacement caused by the violence, this is the first time the UN World Food Programme (WFP)has operated in locations so close to the to the border with Nigeria, where the security situation is ?volatile?.

The agency started providing support to this new wave of refugees in June, reaching around 7,500 people in a first round of food distribution.

?We have found worrying levels of malnutrition, especially among children. Addressing this is a priority for the United Nations World Food Programme and out humanitarian partners,? stressed the agency?s representative in Cameroon, Jacques Roy.

WFP has also provided local health clinics with new stocks of special nutritional products to reduce malnutrition among refugees. It has also distributed food to all children under five and to all pregnant and nursing women.

The agency and its humanitarian partners in Cameroon are planning to assist approximately over 50,000 displaced people in need of food by the end of the year.

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