Malnutrition persists in Borno IDP camps

•More deaths likely this year, says UNICEF

From Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri

Hundreds of children and women at internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps in Boko Haram-ravaged Borno State still suffer malnutrition, even though the state has been receiving more humanitarian support.
The United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) has also predicted more deaths from this health challenge this year, unless more aids are delivered to the area.
UNICEF, in a report last week, said 475, 000 women and children around the Lake Chad region risk severe acute malnutrition due to drought and the six years of violence by the jihadist Boko Haram group. Of this population, 49, 000, mostly from Borno, the heartland of insurgency, risk death, the report stated.
A health support group, Doctors Without Borders (Medicine San Frontiers-MSF) first alerted the world to the plight of the malnourished children at Bama IDPs camp in June after the visit of the Nigerian beauty therapist and philanthropist, Ms Modupe Ozolua to the area.
Various humanitarian organisations, Borno State government and the Federal Government, through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), have delivered assorted food items to Bama, Borno’s second largest town seized by Boko Haram between September 2014 and March 2015. But then, malnutrition persists as fresh cases are being discovered at the camp.
Job Kamamba, a nutritionist with MSF told Daily Sun during a visit to Bama camp that 152 children with severe malnutrition have been discovered.
“There are also 310 people with moderate cases while 10 sick and severely malnourished persons have been referred to the stabilization centre in Maiduguri,” he disclosed.
Hundreds of children and women lined up for checks in front of a tent erected by the MSF at the camp. Kamamba said MSF checks on the IDPs discovered 152 cases of sick and severely malnourished persons in two days, a figure he noted highlighted the magnitude of the health challenge in the area wrecked by violence. He said the MSF also brought some food nutrients and medication for the affected persons at
the camp.
“MSF has delivered six trucks of food items; beans and some nutritional foods. We also gave mosquito nets because we realize many of the IDPs are sick mostly from malaria. Our target is population from five years and below,” a logistician with MSF, Frank De-Ciban disclosed.
But UN Assistant Secretary General and Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, Mr Tobi Lazer said the United Nations is not satisfied with the level of intervention.
“We’re not satisfied with the level of support for the humanitarian challenges in the northeast,” he said in Bama last week during his visit to mark the World Humanitarian Day. He urged donors to show concern and get more involved in the pains of the people of the northeast states affected by Boko Haram insurgency.
Gov Kashim Shettima said many of the IDPs have been under Boko Haram bondage for almost two years without good food until recently when they were liberated.
“They have been under the terrorists who either kidnapped them or commandeered them to stay under their rule after capturing communities,” he said and commended the military for liberating most of the communities.
“If not for the sacrifices made by our gallant troops, we would not have been going to Bama or even have IDPs here,” he said.
UNICEF has said it was seeking $308 million to support the humanitarian challenges in the northeast but has received only $41 million, about 13 percent of its needs. The body called on nations to donate for humanity.

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