By Abraham Terngu
ABUJA (Reuters) - The United Nations has doubled its humanitarian funding appeal for northeast Nigeria to $1 billion in 2017 in a bid to reach nearly 7 million people hit by the Islamist militant Boko Haram insurgency who need life-saving help, it said on Friday.
The jihadist group has killed 15,000 people and displaced more than 2 million from their homes during a seven-year insurgency in Africa's most populous nation.
Nigerian military forces backed by troops from neighboring states have, in the past few months, pushed Boko Haram out of areas they previously controlled, revealing thousands of people living in famine-like conditions.
The United Nations has said some 75,000 children are at risk of starving to death in the region over the next few months if they do not receive humanitarian assistance.
"We will target 6.9 million people," said Peter Lundberg, U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) deputy humanitarian coordinator, outlining the agency's 2017 plan, adding that this would require $1 billion.
"That is a five-fold increase compared to the initial appeal of 2016. It is a more than doubling compared to the outcome appeal for 2016," said Lundberg. He said OCHA planned to address nutrition, food, health and sanitation needs of people in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa - the three states worst hit by the insurgency.
OCHA sought $484 million in 2016, having initially appealed for $248 million.
(Additional reporting by Camillus Eboh and Tom Miles, in Geneva; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Alison Williams)