Nigeria has an internally displaced persons (IDP) population of 2,066,783, more than half of which, at least 1.8 million displaced over the course of the conflict with Boko Haram from 2009 to date.
According to the MSF present in Maiduguri since April 2014 and, working on paediatric and maternal health, nutrition and, cholera on occasional epidemics, at least 1.2 million live in Maiduguri, mostly within the host community, others in 16 official camps and 16 informal camps. ‘Official Camps’ are those recognized by the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, and the informal are those managed or created by religious bodies and Non-governmental Organizations.
According to the UNHCR there is severe malnutrition on a wide scale and the picture of suffering is “shocking” in Borno and Yobe States. Human rights violations, including deaths, sexual violence, disappearances add to growing problems each day.
With a Nigerian IDP population larger than the populations of West African Countries such as Cape Verde, The Gambia and Guinea Bissau, one can appreciate the over stretching of resources of UNHCR , other UN agencies, the Nigerian Government, INGOs and local NGOs.
Another 187,000 Nigerians have fled into neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon. The mutating regional crisis of Boko Haram has generated growing numbers of internally displaced persons in these countries too. There are 127,000 internally displaced people in Niger; Cameroon, 157,000 and, Chad 74,800.
If adequate assistance is not received, an estimated 244,000 children in Borno state alone will suffer from severe acute malnutrition over the next 12 months and up to 400,000 in total across Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.
More than 4.4 million Nigerians are now in urgent need of food assistance, a further 7 million in need of humanitarian assistance, at least half of whom are children.
Satomi Ahmed, Chairman of the Nigerian State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, announced to journalists in Maiduguri that over 2000 children, currently being treated for severe acute malnutrition at the Borno State Nursery Village have been stabilized and will be discharged, to rejoin their parents.
The Gwange and Maimusari malnutrition centers are also filled with scores of malnourished children, being treated by the Medicines San Frontier (MSF) in collaboration with the Borno State Government and International Non-Governmental Organisations.
Satomi Ahmed called on INGOs working in the stateto liaise with SEMA in carrying out their activities so as to avoid duplication of efforts. And, complained that poor communication and coordination among INGOs poses a challenge for SEMA.
In a telephone Interview with Kayode Abodurin, correspondent of the Nigerian Tribune in Maiduguri, Said that prior to the Doctors Without Borders helicopter dropping campaigns, “the Bama camp was ostracized, because it could not be accessed due to the attack by Boko Haram.” After that many of the IDPs were moved to Maiduguri and an additional camp created in Banki town.
The twenty one chibok girls released also confirmed that they did not have food for over a month while in captivity.
According to Kayode, there are now less than 10,000 IDPs being treated for malnutrition in Bama General Hospital. He also said in Bama, there were also issues of deviation of food items meant for the IDPs by officials.
Kayode Bodurin, also part of a team reporters in the entourage of Borno State Governor, Kashimu Shittima during his visit to Bama in September, claims there is no certainty as to which of the two factions of Boko Haram are releasing (albeit intermittently) the women captives. Military sources in Bama claim both factions are exhausted and running out of food, water supplies, hence the release of female captives.
The Women’s Torch gathered that some of the women released by Boko Haram are from Kodomos, Koka Kura, Gulumba, Hurnyu, Tarmura Kura and many other small villages around the Sambisa Forest. The say women’s lives were spared so long as they agreed to become sexual slaves of Boko Haram members.
He claims military sources told him that even prior to the negotiations between “the terrorists holding Chibok girls and the federal government”, both factions of Boko Haram under the leadership of Abubakar Shekau and Abu Albarnawi started weekly releases of female captives.
According to him ” When you are in the hands of terrorists who could kill instantly they just had to conform to all their directives including sexual slavery” that is why most of them are found to be pregnant after the tests carried on them.
A pregnant woman, rescued by the Nigerian military cried, “the terrorists used to line up to sleep with us. Each one waiting for his turn …. I don’t know who is responsible. There is no respect, concerning the ones commanders have earmarked as their slaves, when those commanders have gone out to look, for food or special operations like planting IED’S on the road , the younger ones too come in to take their turns even if you are weak and may die. Some as young as fifteen.”
Military sources say that of 8 persons rescued by the military in Kasua Shanu in September, Seven (7) were women, five (5) of whom were pregnant while two others had “kids on their backs.”
All indications are that the pregnant women were pale, the kids malnourished, clear indications that they weren’t given enough food.
Relating their testimonies, some women, now under military protection say they were given permission to leave because there was not enough food to keep them going, while others escaped during heavy bombardments of the Sambisa Forest by the Nigerian Air force.
Prostitution rife among Female Nigerian IDPs
The Network of Civil Society Organisations in Borno State, states that there is an increased rate of prostitution by female internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the state, adding that displaced women and teenagers were engaging in prostitution in order to raise money to feed their families.
Presenting a situational assessment of internally displaced persons in Abuja, Ahmed Shehu, further disclosed that 60 per cent of female IDPs had suffered rape and other forms of sexual harassment.
Shehu said “The sad part of it is that many female internally displaced persons have gone into prostitution so that they can feed themselves,”adding that such a development could worsen the high incidences of sexually transmitted diseases in the state.”
Indicating that women were raped and killed while collecting firewood, he called on the government to address the cases of sexual abuse and rise in vice, including incidences of corruption and malpractices in the distribution of relief materials for the IDPs in the camps.
By Veronica Ogbole, Ndey Tapha Sosseh