The international medical humanitarian organization, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) on Wednesday gave a blistering account of the humanitarian crisis that is ongoing in Nigeria’s internally displaced persons (IDP) camps.
The group specifically relates how IDP camps in Bama were severely struggling with issues of malnutrition, the lack of proper hygiene and an almost daily record of deaths by severely malnourished children.
According to MSF’s head of mission in Nigeria, Ghada Hatim, even though they are headquarted in Borno State capital, Maiduguri since 2014, the several hours that they had access to the camp in Bama exposed the team to a lot of issues in need of urgent attention.
According to the accounts given to MSF by displaced people in Bama new graves are appearing on a daily basis. We were told more than 30 people are dying a day due to hunger and illness.
“This is the first time MSF has been able to access Bama, but we already know the needs of the people there are beyond critical. We are treating malnourished children in medical facilities in Maiduguri and see the trauma on the faces of our patients who have witnessed and survived many horrors.”
Facts MSF found during the Bama visit
- Town of Bama (northeastern Nigeria,) population of 24,000 people
- Including 15,000 children, among them 4,500 are under 5 years
- All 24,000 are sheltered in a camp located on a hospital compound.
- 16 severely malnourished children at immediate risk of death were referred to the MSF in-patient therapeutic feeding center in Maiduguri.
- A rapid nutritional screening of more than 800 children found that 19 percent were suffering from severe acute malnutrition—the deadliest form of malnutrition.
- MSF team counted 1233 cemetery graves located near the camp which had been dug in the past year.
- Many of those graves—480—were of children
- Since May 23, at least 188 people have died in the camp—almost six people per day—mainly from diarrhea and malnutrition.
“We have been told that people including children there half starved to death. According to the accounts given to MSF by displaced people in Bama new graves are appearing on a daily basis. We were told more than 30 people are dying a day due to hunger and illness,” Ghaba Hatim added.
Between June 13 and 15, Nigerian authorities and a local NGO evacuated 1,192 people requiring medical care from the Bama area to Maiduguri, capital of Borno State.
This group of mostly women and children, was placed in the “Camp Nursing ‘ internally displaced camp. Out of 466 children screened by MSF medical teams at Camp Nursing, 66 percent were emaciated with 39 percent had a severe form of malnutrition.
MSF has been in Borno State since May 2014. It supports two hospitals, two clinics, two clinics in the camps where displaced people can come see for free. In 2015, MSF has provided more than 116,300 medical consultations, conducted 1,330 deliveries and supported 6,000 malnourished children
A violent insurgency by Boko Haram has led to widespread displacement and an escalating humanitarian crisis in the Lake Chad region.
According to UNHCR, nearly 1.4 million people have been internally displaced in northeast Nigeria alone, and approximately 170,000 people have fled to neighbouring Cameroon (56,000), Chad (14,000), and Niger (100,000). At least 1,300 people have died due to the violence so far this year.
Nigeria’s Borno State remains the heart of the current conflict and the situation continues to be extremely volatile and tense. Random attacks are common, mostly targeting civilians.