Malnutrition Soars Amongst Internally Displaced Persons

Internally Displaced Persons

Photo : Kayode Ogundamisi, Daily Post

 

Nigeria has the highest number of internally displaced persons (IDP) in Africa. 2.5 million as of April 2016.

These are men, women, and children fleeing terrorist group Boko Haram, responsible for the deaths of around 20,000 persons till date.

Unfortunately, for the bulk of IDPs, theirs is a case of being between the devil and the deep blue sea. They are to choose between villages burnt and ransacked by Boko Haram or IDP camps that can be likened to hell holes.

According to a report released by international medical organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) last week, approximately 1,233 graves have been found in Bama, Borno, 480 of which contained bodies of children.

In addition to the graves, 16 malnourished children on the verge of death were found. 19% of the 800 children in the camp are also said to be suffering from severe acute malnutrition – the deadliest form of malnourishment in existence.
Worthy of note is that 10 billion naira was appropriated for the care of IDPs in the 2016 budget. And the Boko Haram Victims Support Fund inaugurated in 2014 has so far realised N 80 billion.

Why then are people dying of hunger?
President Buhari seems to be asking the same question as he has summoned National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) officials to a meeting following the MSF reports.

NEMA sharing relief materials to internally displaced persons

Photo : nema.gov.ng

A simple answer ; corruption.

Even with complaints of allocated funds being insufficient and the bulk of the displaced persons coming into the camps malnourished, the main cause of this humanitarian crisis is corruption.

Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima has ordered an investigation into claims that officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)re-bag the rice meant for IDPs.

There are also reports of camp officials who loot non food relief items donated by Non Governmental Organisations and well meaning citizens.

Internally displaced persons are people who previously led normal lives, had sources of income and homes. By no fault of theirs, they became victims of insurgency and now lack a very basic amenity; food.

To curb this crisis, daily supervision of food distribution, employment of nutritionist and severe punishment of looting officials must be employed.

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