House Urges Action over High HIV Infections in IDP Camps



James Emejo in Abuja

The House of Representatives yesterday passed a resolution mandating the Committees on Internally Displaced Persons, Refugees and Initiatives on North-east Zone and Healthcare Services to urgently assess the high rate of HIV infections at the internally displaced persons’ (IDP) camps in the zone.

The committees are required to probe the development and make appropriate recommendations on ways to ameliorate the challenges confronting affected displaced persons and report back to the House in four weeks for further legislative action.

The motion,  moved by Hon. Aishatu Jibril Dukku, stated that recent records from the Borno State Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS (BOSACA) showed that 512 new cases of HIV infections were recorded at the IDP camps in the state, while official records had earlier indicated that no fewer than 5,000 IDPs in 27 camps in the state are currently living with the virus.

The House expressed worry over the rate of sexual abuse and exploitation at the camps by unscrupulous camp officials in the form of “sex for money, food and freedom of movement” in and out of the camps and rape being perpetrated by members of the host communities.

It noted that older IDPs are largely responsible for the high rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV infections and AIDS ravaging the camps.

The House noted that the insurgency by the Boko Haram sect had been the biggest threat to health care services across the North-east zone with assessment results showing that none of the 27 camps were providing HIV/AIDS awareness campaign, antiretroviral refills and continuous HIV counselling or testing.

Consequently, the lawmakers noted that only a portion of those infected with the virus can access treatment while only 32 out of the 90 antiretroviral centers are still operational in the state.

The Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response (SPHERE) recommended the provision of anti-retroviral drugs to either internally displaced people or refugees as a minimum standard for health services in crisis situations.