OVER 7,000 internally-displaced persons (IDPs) at El-Miskin Camp in Maiduguri, Borno State, have alleged that the Nigerian government no longer support them.
The IDPs made the allegation in a statement mailed to The ICIR by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Friday, March 31.
Mattias Schmale, Resident Coordinator of the programme in Nigeria, said he visited the IDPs on Friday, March 30, and was shocked by their condition.
In addition to hunger, Schmale said officials at the centre’s Outpatient Therapeutic Feeding Programme said dozens of children were admitted with acute malnutrition.
“Yesterday, I visited El-Miskin Camp in Maiduguri, Borno State, where approximately 7,200 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have sought safety. The food situation is severe for many families in the camp due to a lack of funding for operations.
“Women told me that they had not received food assistance in more than three months and were struggling to feed their families. Some children described going for several days without eating enough. Mothers told me their children go to bed crying from hunger.”
The IDPs are among an estimated 4.4 million people who will need sustained emergency food assistance in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states, according to the October 2022 Cadre Harmonisé food and nutrition analysis, the UN Chief stated.
Because of the lack of food, Schmale explained that people at the camp warned of increased malnutrition figures in the coming months.
“Severe acute malnutrition is expected to double compared to last year, affecting some 690,000 children. Government and the humanitarian community must redouble efforts to prevent this from happening. Financial resources are needed now to take the necessary action to save their lives.
“Without assistance, cases of life-threatening severe acute malnutrition will increase, and more people will resort to negative coping mechanisms such as begging, survival sex and child labour to survive,” he added.
Many children are out of school at the camp, claimed Schmale. He said over 4,000 school-age children in the camp were unable to attend school for years.
According to him, only one of the 17 women he met could read or write.
Schmale urged the government at all levels and other partners to ensure they support the women and children to live their dreams and contribute meaningfully to the growth and prosperity of their nation.
He noted that aid agencies had received only eight per cent of the US$ 1.3 billion required to reach six million people identified for emergency assistance in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.
“I urge donors, the private sector, and other well-wishers to urgently provide additional funding and resources to enable national and international humanitarian organisations working with the government to act early and at scale to deliver assistance to save lives, improve living conditions and protect those most in need ahead of the lean season.”
The Director of Resettlement and Durable Solution at the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants, and Internally Displaced Persons, Kangiwa Musa, could not comment on the IDPs’ allegation of neglect by the government when contacted by The ICIR on Friday.
Kangiwa, whose office supports the IDPs, said he was on study leave at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru Jos, but handed over to an Assistant Director.
He promised to send the Assistant Director’s contact but did not do so for over an hour before this report was filed.
On March 29, The ICIR reported how the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the UK Government and the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) launched a new lifesaving programme for children in the country’s North-East.
The ICIR reports that the North-East has faced an over-a-decade security crisis arising from scores of attacks by the Boko Haram insurgents.
The crisis reportedly displaced about a million people, orphaned hundreds of children, and caused high-scale destruction of infrastructures, including schools, hospitals and power sources.