Northeast crisis at 10: MSF bemoans level of humanitarian intervention

Gen. Buratai

Médecins Sans Frontières, (MSF) otherwise called Doctors Without Borders, has said that humanitarian needs in the northeast remain largely unmet because of dire conditions.

It said: “Ten years of violence and displacement – conditions remain dire and humanitarian needs unmet in north-east Nigeria.

“It has been 10 years since an insurgency began in north-east Nigeria, with armed opposition groups fighting the Nigerian army. A decade on, the conflict is far from over.”

It said: “People continue to be forced from their homes by the violence and many displaced families now live in camps either operated by the state authorities or informally set up alongside local communities. 

“The majority of the displaced are women and children and are heavily depending on humanitarian assistance for survival. It is estimated that 1.8 million people have been displaced across the north-eastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.”

MSF, while noting that it began responding to Northeast crisis in 2014, said: “Since 2009, increasing levels of insecurity and forced displacement have continued to disrupt people’s lives in Borno,” lamenting that the wider humanitarian response was slow to start. 

It recalled that in 2016, it raised the alarm in Bama, in Borno, as teams there witnessed high levels of malnutrition, lamenting that: “Although the amount of humanitarian aid has increased in the past few years, gaps in support for displaced communities have not been adequately addressed. Many areas of Borno remain still very insecure today, which makes providing assistance difficult.”

It noted that: “Humanitarian workers can only work in so- called ‘garrison towns’, enclaves controlled by the Nigerian military, and cannot access other areas outside military control. But even within the garrison towns the needs of people remain unmet. This has forced some people to leave the relative safety of the camps, risking their lives outside security perimeter to seek out food and firewood.”

It equally lamented that: “In the formal camps, restrictions on freedom of movement undermine opportunities for self-reliance and prevent people from farming or growing crops, making them heavily dependent on humanitarian assistance for survival. This is compounding the long-term physical and psychological traumas of having lived through a decade of violence.”

It also said: “In the informal camps, people are crammed on to small patches of land, with little infrastructure or humanitarian support to ensure their basic needs are met. Many families sleep in tiny huts made of plastic sheets or torn-up clothing and fabric, unable to withstand even brief spells of rain.”

In the statement issued on Monday, it quoted 40-year-old Lami Mustapha, as saying: “Since we arrived in this camp eight months ago, we haven’t had any latrines we can use. We all have been defecating in the open, usually running to the nearby bush,” 

Mustapha said she has been living in an informal camp in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, with her eight children. 

Another woman, Rabi Musa, a 50-year-old mother of 10 children, was also said to have said that life at the informal camp was not easy.

She said: “We all have to beg, including my children, and work menial jobs to survive. There is no assistance coming our way.”

Another, 30-year-old Yakura Kolo living with five children in a camp for displaced people., was said to have lamented that: “In the past six years I’ve been forced to move three times. The first two times I was fleeing violent attacks, and then the third time because of difficult living conditions,”

MSF said: “In Maiduguri, an influx of displaced people from across the region has led to the population doubling from one to two million. While most aid agencies and much of the humanitarian aid is concentrated here, the needs are massive and health services still do not have enough resources.”

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