Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), a non-governmental organisation, has said said 33 children have died in a Borno State Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp between 2 and 15 August.
MSF in a report released on Friday said since April 2018, more than 10,000 people have arrived in a Bama camp, with many in poor health.
According to the report, a critical humanitarian situation is unfolding in the camp as the Bama Government Science Secondary School (GSSS) camp intended for a maximum of 25,000 people has reached capacity at the end of July.
“Lack of adequate assistance, including access to shelter and healthcare, is having severe consequences for young children arriving in the town. MSF calls on authorities to urgently provide adequate assistance for the population, before the situation deteriorates further”.
“Since April 2018, more than 10,000 people have arrived in the Government Science Secondary School (GSSS) camp in the town; many are in poor health. Newly displaced people reported fleeing areas where they were unable to sustain their livelihoods, while others reported fleeing areas where the Nigerian armed forces are conducting military operations against armed groups.
“In the GSSS camp, shelter and healthcare assistance has not kept pace with the growing population and people continue to arrive every day with not enough shelters for everyone”.
Katja Lorenz, MSF’s representative in Abuja was quoted in the report to have said over 6,000 people currently sleep in the open with no protection from the heat, rains and mosquitoes.
“People do not even have basic utensils to cook their dry food rations, and water is not available in adequate quantities to meet the minimum needs. A lot of children are already in a critical state upon arrival, and poor assistance and access to healthcare further deteriorates their condition” she said.
“Between 2 and 15 August, MSF teams reported that 33 young children had died in the camp. This figure is alarmingly high in relation to the total number of children under five years old, which is estimated to be around 6,000”.
The organisation also said non-availability of medical facilities is hampering the treatment of sick children.
Lorenz further said despite the presence of government agencies and international humanitarian organisations in Bama, the health and nutrition situation has been allowed to deteriorate up to the current crisis point.
“Many children are severely malnourished and suffer from medical complications – they urgently need intensive care and close medical follow-up, as the current rainy season typically sees a spike in the number of patients with malaria and diarrhoeal diseases. The lack of an inpatient nutrition and paediatric health facility in Bama is having catastrophic consequences for children”.
“At present, the only hospital in Bama, the Bama General Hospital, is not functional. Seriously ill children have to travel to Maiduguri for further treatment. However, many people in Bama cannot afford to pay for private transport to take them to the state capital. And even if they can, inpatient nutritional centres are overwhelmed. While setting up an inpatient facility in Bama, between 1 and 12 August MSF had to refer 26 patients to its own paediatric hospital in Maiduguri”.
“Measures must be urgently taken to avoid overcrowding and ensure dignified living conditions in the GSSS camp. Secondary and emergency healthcare for both IDPs and the resident population must be scaled up as quickly as possible”.
“On 16 August, MSF launched inpatient services for severely malnourished children under five years old, as well as paediatric care for patients under 15 with severe malaria and other diseases, in a facility with a capacity of 30 beds”.
“This is only a short-term response to the critical humanitarian situation in Bama, until the level of assistance is scaled up. MSF is calling on authorities to urgently address humanitarian needs before the situation deteriorates further”.
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