At least 33 children have died in the internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Bama, Borno state, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), a non-governmental organisation, has said.
In a report released Friday, the organisation said a critical humanitarian situation is unfolding in the camp which has seen an influx of “more than 10,000 IDPs” in August 2018.
Bama is one of the worst hit towns in the Boko Haram insurgency in Borno and other parts of the north-east.
“Lack of adequate assistance, including access to shelter and healthcare, is having severe consequences for young children arriving in the town,” MSF said in the statement.
“Since April 2018, more than 10,000 people have arrived in the Government Science Secondary School (GSSS) camp (where) shelter and healthcare assistance has not kept pace with the growing population.”
Katja Lorenz, MSF’s representative in Abuja, was quoted as saying well over 6,000 people in the camp “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,” Lorenz added.
“A lot of children are already in a critical state upon arrival, and poor assistance and access to healthcare further deteriorates their condition.
“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.”
‘NO AVAILABLE MEDICAL ATTENTION’
The organisation said it has started emergency nutritional and paediatric activities in the town following “severe” malnutrition being faced by children and other IDPs.
“Many children are severely malnourished and suffer from medical complications,” the statement read, adding: “The lack of an inpatient nutrition and paediatric health facility in Bama is having catastrophic consequences for children.”
It also said: “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.
“MSF is calling on authorities to urgently address humanitarian needs before the situation deteriorates further.”