Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima has accused some Non-Governmental Organisations, NGOs, involved in some projects relating to Internally Displaced Persons in his state as living on the pains of his people rather than for it.
The governor made this declaration on Monday while delivering a keynote address at a High Level Emergency Round-table on the Humanitarian Crisis in Borno State which was held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja.
The meeting was convened by Ayoade Olatunbosun – Alakija, CEO of AOA Global, a humanitarian outfit working with the Borno State Government.
He said “some NGOs are taking huge advantage of the pains of internally displaced persons in Borno State and defrauding foreign philanthropists under the pretense of trying to help victims of the Boko Haram insurgency.”
Shettima, spoke in support of the disclosure by the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Mohammed Safieldin who had earlier said at the meeting that ‘most of the pictures of critically malnourished infants, children and some adults in circulation all over the social media since last week were those of victims recently rescued by the armed forces from the hands of Boko Haram fighters who held them hostage for years”.
The governor lamented that some NGOs go in search of such victims and take their photographs which they share to the world targeting unsuspecting philanthropists to part with funds for the purpose of helping the displayed victims while the fund end up in private pockets.
He added: “I need to open up here by saying that in the midst of credible organisations trying to help us in Borno, we have seen occasional instances of some ‘business groups’ masquerading as NGOs smiling to the Bank on the agony of our people. I do not mean to disrespect any sincere NGO but there are those I have seen, whose only interest is to go round thousands of IDPs and figure out sick and skinny looking infants, pose for the cameras with them and upload on the social media mainly to attract funding from concerned philanthropists abroad.
“I have seen one example where someone I wouldn’t mention simply sent out horrible pictures of malnourished infants with a caption, DONATE. I think these children, bad as their situation might be, deserve to be respected no matter how much we want to help. We must respect the dignity of post-conflict victims as much we desire to be respected as humans”.
The Governor, who also reacted to a statement issued by the Médecins Sans Frontières otherwise called Doctors Without Borders, that there was acute malnutrition at the IDPs camp in Bama with more than hundreds deaths, mostly children, said the MSF did not put their statement in a proper context, a situation he said was not quite helpful.
Shettima said: “Yes, the situation is almost overwhelming, the challenges frightening, but we are doing our best to confront them. It is common knowledge to this audience that the operation and management of Internally Displaced Persons camps are historically replete with a litany of problems. Even camps located in advanced countries like the Calais Jungle in France or more professionally managed ones like the Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya are not without their bouquet of challenges.
‘It is against this backdrop that I would like to admonish us to exercise some degree of caution and restrain as we strive to bring the myriad of problems associated with the management of a humanitarian crisis of the scale existing in Borno Sate in particular and the North East in general to an end.
“While we do not deny that the challenges the report tried to convey do exist, sufficient justice was not done to the fact that the Borno State Government, a few reputable NGOs, domestic and International and of course, the U.N. institutions are doing everything within the limits of available resources to frontally address them.”
He regretted that MSF Statement issued last week completely ignored the fact that interventions were already being made to address the unfortunate cases of malnutrition at the Bama IDPs Camp.
He said over 100 Children were hospitalized out of over 1000 malnourished Children and adults evacuated from Bama and placed under special care in Maiduguri. A team was also constituted to evacuat 478 Children and 219 adults on Monday, the 13th of June, 2016 and all of them were immediately taken to a Special Care Unit and 61 Children hospitalized, he stated.
The roundtable was attended by Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, Permanent Secretary of the State House, heads of different organs of the United Nations and Donor Agencies including the European Union, the United States Agency for International Development, the British Department for International Development and other actors.