Sixty-one critically malnourished infants have been hospitalized on the orders of Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima after he relocated 478 children and 219 adults, all of them malnourished due to two years of captivity in the hands of Boko Haram insurgents before they were rescued by the Nigerian military. The victims were moved from Bama to a special care unit in Maiduguri on Monday.
The 61 infants are now hospitalized at Umaru Shehu Specialist Hospital, owned by the State government in Maiduguri, and are undergoing medical treatment. They are part of the 478 children moved from Bama alongside 219 adults who were also malnourished. The adults consist of 196 women, some of whom gave birth to some of the 478 children. The rest of the adults are 23 men, looking thin.
The victims are among those rescued by the military in continued operations against Boko Haram insurgents, who in the last six years have been attacking communities and killing and abducting residents.
After ordering health and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) staff to set up the special unit on Monday night, Mr. Shettima met the rescued children with their parents on Tuesday. The governor mobilized workers on water and sanitation, the environment and other senior government officials. He personally supervised the administration of care to the children and their parents.
"Anyone that shows sign of being in a critical health condition should be sent for medical admission on the government’s shoulders. Food and water must be constant and so should medical staff and drugs at the unit. I will monitor every step of what happens here," Mr. Shettima told staff.
Humanitarians were also present at the special care unit, including workers from Empower 54, an Atlanta-based humanitarian organization led by a Benin princess, Modupe Ozolua. The princess played a key role in working with the Borno State government over the past few weeks and she accompanied government officials to Bama on Monday to convey the 697 suffering souls to Maiduguri.
"Modupe has done very well in supporting Borno," Mr. Shettima said.
At the special care unit were members of the Dangote Foundation, who immediately donated food items. There were also officials from the United Nations Office on Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), along with members of the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
Meanwhile, Mr. Shettima on Tuesday relocated thousands of freshly rescued villagers displaced in Marte and Mafa. The governor went to see the victims who stayed under trees along Maiduguri-Dikwa road on the outskirts of Maiduguri. The villagers, said to be over 10,000, were rescued around Mafa and Marte after a recent raid by the military. They were trapped due to insurgent activities on the routes to their villages, they told the governor. Mr. Shettima not only ordered that a new camp be opened for them but he waited for 4 hours, supervising the creation of the camp. He ordered the construction of boreholes and rest rooms while a medical unit was being set up. The governor was concerned about security around the new camp but soldiers assured him that there was no cause for worry.