The Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, has alleged that some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are taking huge advantage of the pains of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the state by defrauding foreign philanthropists under the pretense of trying to help victims of the Boko Haram insurgency.
Shettima stated this yesterday when he delivered a keynote address at a ‘High Level Emergency Roundtable on the Humanitarian Crisis’ in the state which was held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja with the attendance of Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Folorunso Adewole; Permanent Secretary of the State House (the Presidency), heads of different organs of the United Nations and donor agencies including the European Union, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the British Department for International Development (BDID) and other actors.
The meeting was convened by Dr. Ayoade Olatunbosun-Alakija, CEO of AOA Global, a humanitarian outfit working with the state government.
The governor spoke in support of the disclosure by the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Mohammed Elmunir Safieldin, who said at the meeting that “most of the pictures of critically malnourished infants, children and some adults in circulation all over the social media since last week were those of victims recently rescued by the armed forces from Boko Haram fighters who held them hostage for years.”
Shettima alleged that some NGOs go in search of such victims and take their photographs which they share to the world, targeting unsuspecting philanthropists to part away with funds for the purpose of helping the displayed victims while the funds end up in private pockets.
“I need to open up here by saying that in the midst of credible organisations trying to help us in the state, we have seen occasional instances of some ‘business groups’ masquerading as NGOs smiling to the bank on the agony of our people.
“I do not mean to disrespect any sincere NGO but there are those I have seen, whose only interest is to go round thousands of IDPs and figure out ill and skinny looking infants, pose for the cameras with them and upload on the social media mainly to attract funding from concerned philanthropists abroad. I have seen one example where someone I wouldn’t mention simply sent out horrible pictures of malnourished infants with a caption, DONATE.
“I think these children, bad as their situation might be, deserve to be respected no matter how much we want to help them. We must respect the dignity of post-conflict victims as much we desire to be respected as humans,” the governor said.
He also spoke about a statement issued by the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSM) otherwise called Doctors Without Borders, who said there was acute malnutrition at the IDP camp in Bama with large of scale of hundreds of deaths mostly of children.
Shettima said the MSF didn’t put their statement in a proper context, a situation he said wasn’t quite helpful.
The meeting was dissolved into a technical session with the federal government promising an immediate health response in the state as announced by the Health Minister.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Adewole, monday said there was currently a health emergency in the state requiring an immediate and rapid attention.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari had expressed concern over the deteriorating nutritional conditions in the state and further directed that a Rapid Response Team be assembled to deal with the crisis which could claim as many as five children in every hour if not tackled.
“The kind of swift response being planned in order to address the nutritional challenges in the state would be similar to “what we did with Ebola,” the minister told THISDAY in an interview.
He added that a comprehensive plan detailing how to approach the crisis would be forwarded to the presidency soon. Adewole also said a plan that would address both moderate and severe malnutrition for about 6,000 affected children in the state was currently being developed.