The presidency has responded to the recent report of malnutrition in the Bama Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Borno State by deploying a special assessment team to the camp.
The team was led by Hajiya Maryam Uwais, Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment. She acknowledged the enormity of the challenges faced by the IDPs and assured them that President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to addressing their plights. The special assessment team also comprised of the UN aid workers led by the Deputy National Humanitarian Coordinator, the Director of Disaster Risk Reduction, and the NEMA Director of Search and Rescue amongst others.
“We're here to see for ourselves the situation on the ground here,” Mrs. Uwais said, adding that the federal government would continue to lead the efforts towards helping the IDPs until they are finally resettled back to their communities.
The delegation, which included senior officials of the Borno State Government, officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the State Emergency Management Agency, and representatives from the United Nations, was taken around the camp, home to 25,000 adults and children, by Colonel Adamu Garba Laka, Brigade Commander of the 21 Armored Brigade, Bama.
The commander highlighted the challenges faced in the camp, including shortages of medical personnel, shelter, water and sanitation facilities.
Mrs. Uwais commended the military for their gallantry and dedication to securing and caring for the displaced persons. Acknowledging that this is a “crisis situation,” she assured the IDPs that the federal government would work with the State government, international community, local partners and civil society groups to ensure that all the needs of the inhabitants of Bama camp, and the several others like it, are speedily met.
Borno State Health Commissioner Haruna Mshelia said that 1,800 of the most vulnerable persons in the camp have been relocated to Maiduguri for medical attention and specialized feeding, and that the relocation is ongoing. He added that a permanent health team has been working in the camp since May 2016, and that the existing team still required a lot of support.
The commissioner said that the report of acute malnutrition and deaths in the camp were exaggerated, adding that the State government, with the support of the federal government and other development partners, has been doing their best to assist IDPs in the Bama camp and throughout the State.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on IDPs, Mariam Masha, assured the IDPs that alongside the humanitarian work, the federal and State governments are also focusing on the longer-term work of ensuring that the reconstruction and resettlement project is effectively hastened to enable the IDPs to return to their homes and communities and rebuild their lives.
She added that as the military continues its task of liberating hitherto isolated communities from the grip of Boko Haram, the scale of the humanitarian crisis is certain to increase, and called for increased support from all partners and stakeholders.
Also speaking, the North-East Zonal Coordinator of NEMA, Mohammed Kanar, disclosed that the federal government, through the Presidential Initiative For the North-East, has commenced the construction of 500 new tents each in some identified camps In Maiduguri as well as all the satellite camps, including Bama, Dikwa, Moguno and Konduga.
About 50 additional persons identified with cases malnutrition in the camp were immediately transported by the assessment team to Maiduguri while three more trucks of food items from NEMA were also delivered to the IDPs.
The cases of malnutrition in the camp have been attributed to the long periods of captivity under Boko Haram to which the IDPs have been subjected before being freed by the military.