LAGOS: The U.N. children's agency says nearly a half million children will face starvation in northeastern Nigeria next year and 80,000 will die if they don't get treatment in the humanitarian crisis created by Boko Haram's Islamic uprising.
UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake warns that "a crisis can become a catastrophe."
His statement Tuesday said the figures of 400,000 children at risk represent just a fraction of the suffering among some 2.6 million refugees in the seven-year insurgency that has killed more than 20,000 people.
It comes days after Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari accused the U.N. and private international aid agencies of exaggerating the crisis to seek donations.
The Associated Press has reported since September that children already are dying of starvation in Maiduguri, the biggest city in the northeast.