MSF Warns against Humanitarian Condition of North-east

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Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri

The humanitarian emergency in North-eastern part of Nigeria especially Borno State is reaching catastrophic levels, according to Médecins Sans Frontières, also known as Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

In a statement wednesday, MSF stated: “A massive relief effort is needed immediately in remote areas as well as in Maiduguri, the state capital.”

It said: “The desperate living conditions in Borno State show the devastating impact of the ongoing conflict between Boko Haram and the Nigerian military.

“In several locations, people have sought refuge in towns or camps controlled by the military, and are entirely reliant on outside aid that does not reach them.

“Although a nutrition emergency was declared three months ago, there has been a serious failure to help the people of the state,” Hugues Robert, head of MSF’s emergency response said,
stressing:“And we are again calling for a massive relief effort to be deployed now.”
The statement read that: “On September 19, MSF teams managed to reach the town of Ngala, where 80,000 displaced people are living in a camp cut off from the outside world. They desperately lack food and healthcare.

“People are effectively stranded in the camp and cannot leave. A rapid nutritional screening of more than 2,000 children under the age of five found that one in 10 was suffering from life-threatening severe acute malnutrition. People in the camp reported having less than half a litre of water per person per day. MSF teams provided food and medical care and are scaling up assistance.”

The statement further said: “In nearby Gamboru, MSF teams found more than one in seven children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. The town’s 123,000 residents lack basic food supplies and have no access to healthcare after the town’s only clinic was burnt down. Roads are too dangerous for people to go elsewhere for medical care.

The desperate situation in Ngala and Gamboru matches that in Bama, Banki and Gwoza – all towns which were inaccessible until very recently due to insecurity, and where MSF has since been providing food and medical assistance.

“But most worryingly, in Maiduguri, where there is no conflict and aid organisations have been able to access the population for the last two years, MSF recorded malnutrition rates in some locations as high as those seen in the conflict zones.”

It added that: “More than half of the 2.5 million people living in the state capital have been displaced from other areas of the state. MSF teams screening children in the Custom House camp found out that one in five children is suffering from severe acute malnutrition. The mortality rate is five times higher than what is considered an emergency, with the main cause being hunger.

“So far the aid response has been massively insufficient, uncoordinated and ill-adapted to the needs of people who are suffering the consequences of this crisis,” said Natalie Roberts, MSF’s Emergency Programme Manager. “To avert an even greater humanitarian disaster, food and medical care must be delivered now to remote and accessible areas in Borno State. Nigerian authorities have a responsibility to make sure this happens for the sake of thousands who are at risk of imminent death.”

MSF also known as Doctors Without Borders, is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters and exclusion from healthcare.

MSF offers assistance to people based on need, irrespective of race, religion, gender or political affiliation.

It has been providing healthcare to people displaced by violence, as well the host community, in northeastern Nigeria since mid-2014.

Elsewhere in the country, in places such as Zamfara, Port Harcourt and Jahun, MSF continues to run extensive projects on child health and sexual and reproductive health, and also responds to medical emergencies such as meningitis and measles outbreaks.

In 2015, MSF teams performed 33,500 outpatient consultations, treated 18,100 patients for malaria, assisted 9,200 births and conducted 2,400 surgical interventions in Nigeria.