As severe hunger takes hold in northeast Nigeria, the U.N. estimates that nearly a half-million children under five will suffer from acute malnutrition this year, and 90,000 may die. Photojournalist Danielle Villasana tells the stories behind the devastating numbers.
MAIDUGURI, NIGERIA – Izah fled her home in northeast Nigeria in 2015 when Boko Haram militants attacked her village, set her house on fire and shot her husband dead.
She is now a widow raising seven children alone in a displacement camp in Monguno, a remote town in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno State that was recaptured by the Nigerian military from Boko Haram in 2015, but was recently attacked again by the militants.
Amid the famine-like conditions taking hold across parts of Borno state over the past year, lack of food led to severe acute malnutrition for Izah’s youngest child, a two-year-old boy. “It was as if he was going to die,” she said.
He completed several weeks of treatment last fall, and by October his condition had improved.
There is a severe hunger crisis in northeast Nigeria, a region afflicted by years of insurgency by militant group Boko Haram. The ongoing violence has displaced 2.4 million people throughout Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger, and has exacerbated dire food shortages in the region.