The full horror of the crisis caused by Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria is just coming to light. As the Nigerian army ousts the insurgents from strongholds in Borno state, millions of survivors are streaming out of previously inaccessible areas. Some 1.8 million people are internally displaced; 1 million of those have crowded into the capital city of Maiduguri alone, living in squalid conditions.
Terrorized for five years, without the most rudimentary health care, about half the displaced are acutely malnourished. Epidemics of measles and malaria are raging, polio has resurfaced, and, in a vicious cycle, malnutrition makes children more vulnerable to disease. No one knows how many people are still trapped—estimates range from 700,000 to 2 million—or have already died. Doctors Without Borders reports that in some areas, a generation of young children has been lost. But the worst crisis in Africa remains largely unrecognized and vastly underfunded.
Journalist Leslie Roberts examines the deadly nexus of severe acute malnutrition and infectious disease, and the struggle of the government and international agencies and NGOS to coordinate an emergency response to a multifaceted crisis in war-torn state of Borno, where the Nigerian army and the insurgents still clash.