Nearly 200 die in a month at Boko Haram displaced camp
23 June 2016, 13:58
Abuja – Nearly 200 people have died in the last
month at a camp for people made homeless by Boko Haram violence in northeast
Nigeria, an aid agency said on Wednesday, warning of a growing malnutrition
A Doctors Without Borders (MSF) team on Tuesday
visited the camp, home to around 24 000 people including 15 000 children, and
found what it called "a catastrophic humanitarian emergency"
One in five of over 800 children it examined had
severe acute malnutrition while 16 severely malnourished children "at
immediate risk of death" were referred to its in-patient treatment centre.
At least 188 people have died in the internally
displaced people (IDP) camp in Bama, some 70km from Maiduguri, since May 23 –
about six a day – mainly from diarrhoea and malnutrition, MSF said in a
A total of 1 233 graves, many of them of for
children, had been dug near the camp in the past year, the agency said.
"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,"
said MSF head of mission in Nigeria Ghada Hatim.
"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."
The Borno state government and international aid
agencies have previously warned about acute food shortages for IDPs in
northeast Nigeria and the wider Lake Chad region.
On June 15, the Borno state government said it had
transferred nearly 700 people, most of them children, from Bama to Maiduguri
for treatment for severe malnutrition.
Sixty-one young children and babies were said to be
A civilian vigilante and a soldier based in the
remote town of Banki, 60km from Bama near the Cameroon border, told AFP this
month at least 10 people were "starving to death" every day.
The vigilante said 376 people had been buried in
the last three months and those still alive were like "walking
Boko Haram, whose seven-year Islamist insurgency in
northeast Nigeria has left at least 20 000 dead and displaced more than 2.6
million, controlled swathes of territory in the northeast in 2014.
But the Nigerian government has said IDPs housed in
camps or host communities can return after a military counter-offensive pushed
the militants out of captured towns and villages.
Despite assurances the northeast is largely clear
of the rebels, sporadic attacks continue and security remains an issue, while
houses, businesses and farms have largely been destroyed.
Domestic and international aid agencies are mainly
based in Maiduguri and dependent on Nigerian army assistance to access camps
outside the city.
The Borno state governor Kashim Shettima last week
ordered police to investigate reports that relief material, including bags of
rice meant for IDPs, was being stolen.
The UN's children's agency, UNICEF, said it has
been working with its partners in Bama since March and has provided health and
nutrition support for some 19 000 people.
Its primary health care centre sees on average 140
patients a day for conditions ranging from malaria, respiratory infections and
diarrhoea, as well as malnutrition screening and treatment.