NEW YORK - More than 6 million people in Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon face severe hunger, including 1 million on the edge of famine, as a result of Boko Haram violence, aid agencies said on Friday as they appealed for more money to tackle the regional crisis.
The Islamist group's seven year insurgency to create an Islamic state in northeast Nigeria has killed 15,000 people and forced 2.4 million to flee their homes.
More than 65,000 people are living in famine in pockets of northeast Nigeria, and over one million others are "one step away" from famine, a coalition of 15 aid groups including Oxfam, the International Rescue Committee and Catholic Relief Services said.
"What we are seeing is families teetering on the edge of famine," Yannick Pouchalan, country director for Nigeria for Action Against Hunger, said in a statement.
"We see families who have not eaten for days, many are begging for food."
In some areas of Nigeria's Borno state, more than half of children under five suffer acute malnutrition - similar to the rates seen in Somalia in 2011, when the scale and severity of hunger led to a declaration of famine, the aid groups said.
They said the conflict and counter-insurgency operations had led to farmlands, rivers and lakes being cut off from communities in and around the Lake Chad area that rely on agriculture and fishing to feed themselves.
"Civilians have paid a high price for policies of cutting off Boko Haram's food and supplies," said Oxfam's Lisa Bay in a statement.