- Over 2,200 displaced persons, pregnant women, children in need of basic amenities
Eight months after the Senate approved N108 billion for the relocation and resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons, not much has changed in the deplorable condition of this category of Nigerians, as the needs-list of the over 2,200 IDPs in the Durumi, Abuja camp, has continued to grow while different kinds of diseases take turn to afflict the overcrowded settlement.
Investigation by The Point revealed that the situation at the Durumi camp, which was opened on March 15, 2014 with a population of less than 1,705 IDPs, has degenerated as 2,226 persons, consisting of 400 children, 170 women, 200 men and a large number of scavenging youth, are now overstretching the available little amenities. This statistics excludes 46 newly born children, who joined the camp during the period under review.
While the remarkable rise in population at the camp has been attributed to the influx of new IDPs from Gwoza and Bama local government areas of Borno State, who were also fortunate to escape death, this development is rather not being celebrated since it has negative consequences for people who have found it increasingly difficult to meet their daily needs.
Speaking with The Point on their ordeal at the camp, the chairman of the IDPs, Ibrahim Ahmudu, expressed regret that he and the other persons were “brought here, dumped and abandoned by government.”
Buttressing Ahmudu’s claim, 28-year-old Mrs. Fatima Ibrahim said, “Every day, we need water, food items and drugs to fight diseases. We have no toilet facility; we also need decent and secure shelter. We live in sheds made with disused polythene materials.” Ibrahim, a native of Gwoza, said she was “nine months pregnant” when insurgents raided their town and whisked away her husband of seven years on September 12, 2014.
The mother of seven surviving children explained that she had taken refuge in 19 settlements before finally arriving at the Durumi camp, where she delivered a twin but lost the babies barely a month after their birth as a “result of the bad living condition.”
The chairman of the Durumi IDPs camp added that nothing had changed since the inmates arrived at the camp. Ahmudu, however, pleaded with The Point to, “Help us tell Buhari that the money you said was voted for us did not even get to us in any way because nothing has changed.”
Explaining further the deplorable condition at the Durumi camp, Ahmadu said, “It is not life that we are living here, we are barely surviving. We are not living.”
The Point’s investigation into the daily subsistence of the Durumi IDPs revealed that the inmates had been surviving on sheer public goodwill. Pregnant women and nursing mothers have no access to ante-natal and post-natal care, respectively. In the face of lack of access to health care, some pregnant women at the camp have suffered from avoidable stillbirth.Education of children and access to the basic needs of life have remained a mirage at the camp.
Twenty-three-year-old Fatima Ismail, who hails from Gwoza LGA of Borno State and has spent 20 months at the Dururmi IDPs camp, said, “I think I am already ten months pregnant.”
According to her, she could not confirm her pregnancy until some NYSC members visited the camp to carry out some tests on the IDPs.
“I don’t know them but they wore NYSC uniform. When we explained that I had not gone to the hospital, they took us to a clinic in Kabusa village and we were tested. “Another corps member later came to help us with the scan; she took us to the village hospital and the scan was good,” she said.
“In this place, there is no doctor,” said another IDP, who pointed to a locked-up structure and explained that that it was donated by the Nigerian Army Officers Wives Association. |
The Point’s investigation, however, revealed that no healthcare service has ever been offered from the structure at the camp because no healthcare officer works there.
“I gave birth to a set of twins twice. So, I had four children but I have only one left now because three died. I lost an infant son to the Boko Haram crises, then I arrived here with a pregnancy for twins, who I delivered in this camp but both twins died during delivery,” Fatima added.
When asked how much the group of pregnant women at the camp may need for ante-natal care, she said, “The most important thing that is lacking now is that I need a place where I will have safe delivery because I don’t want any more stillborn.
“I am afraid because the prescribed delivery date has come and gone and I have not given birth. I have no means and can’t afford the Kabusa village clinic where I may be checked for an accurate delivery date.”
Another pregnant IDP,ß who hails from Bama, Mrs. Hadiza Faridah, lent credence to Fatima’s claim, saying she had ten children, the oldest of whom died at age 10 in a bomb blast. “The oldest of my surviving children is 10 yrs.
We had to run away but we are not sure if this camp is safer than our destroyed home in Gwoza in terms of healthcare and food. “We had to run away from Gwoza because so many children were killed in the attacks. So many other villages suffered the same kind of losses. I have run to a number of states for safety before settling here four months ago.
“The situation in this camp is bad but I think it’s still better because we are safer here, although food is not enough for a mother and her children. “Secondly, there is serious need for hospital and food.
There is no equipment at all. There are midwives, who sometimes come here to give us voluntary assistance, but it’s not as if they are paid for it. “We need help from government. So many children have finished secondary school but we can’t put them in higher schools. Religious organisations have come to help us but they cannot do much for us.
Government must help us in terms of education and healthcare, especially the pregnant women who are IDPs. “Wife of Buratai visited us and brought us a lot of drugs but that didn’t last for two days; only the establishment of a dedicated clinic can save our situation.
“The Christian Association of Nigeria and some Islamic groups have helped us but they are very limited. “Eight of my children are now here. Our house was among the many houses burnt by insurgents in an attack in which my husband died. “Boko Haram bombed all the houses in Gwoza, which had foreign or corrugated iron roofs because they believed they were Western.
They destroyed cars and anything that was a western cultural artifact.” Reacting to claims by the IDPs that they had been abandoned, an official of the National Emergency Management Agency, Josie Mudasiru, said that the agency had no provision for displaced persons in Abuja.
“Where we have IDPs are Yola, Bauchi, Borno and Yola,” he said adding that the camp in Durumi was a settlement of immigrants from the northern part of the country seeking refuge.
“We discovered them in 2014 and as an agency, we have been trying to support them in our own little way by supporting the education of their children while also providing them with relief materials,” he said.
Mudashiru added that the IDPs at the Durumi camp should not expect to be as comfortable as they were in their homes, stressing that government would continue to do its best to give them succour.