By Samuel Malik
The United Nations has applauded the improvement in the conditions of internally displaced persons, IDPs, in Bama, Borno State, saying 15,000 people are provided with food by the World Food Programme while a clinic has been opened to provide care for the sick. Also classes have been set up for school children.
This was made known today in Abuja by the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, Toby Lanzer, who was accompanied by Governor Kashim Shettima to get first-hand information in Bama, one of the worst hit towns, where more than 20,000 displaced persons are camped.
Lanzer, who said his last visit to Bama was in April, said the current security situation is better than before, as Nigerian troops are firmly in control.
The www.icirnigeria.org exclusively reported in June that 21 people were dying daily due to the horrible conditions IDPs were going through. Without adequate medical facility, water and food, the people were faced with death en masse.
“Aid agencies have stepped up their engagement. For example, the World Food Programme is providing rations for more than 15,000 people and the International Organization for Migration and the UN’s Refugee Agency have supported families to build hundreds of all-weather shelters. I was particularly heartened to see young people of Bama, who had been displaced to Maidguri, returning to Bama to help the aid agencies with our work,” Lanzer noted.
In spite of these improvements, the UN chief called for more efforts, especially across the Lake Chad Basin, where he said millions are still at risk of starvation.
“The scale of the crisis in the region is staggering: 9 million people need emergency relief; 4.5 million people are severely food insecure; 2.5 million people have been forced from their homes,” he pointed out, adding that he expects more positive results in the coming weeks from both non-governmental organisations and UN agencies, including UNICEF.
He expressed concern about the new cases of polio in Borno State, which he described as a blow.
“Our stated purpose is to meet people’s needs and I have no doubt that, together with an increasingly engaged donor community, much more good work must and can take place,” he said.