The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), yesterday released a report indicating that over 50,000 persons displaced by insurgency in Nigeria’s North-east zone are living in extremely difficult conditions.
ICRC’s Head of Delegation in Nigeria, Karl Mattli, said the organisation has distributed food and household items to displaced persons who are taking refuge in Maiduguri, Borno State.
“Not only did people have to flee their homes in Kodunga, Kaga, Gwoza and Damboa, they also lost all their belongings and their means of earning a living. They didn’t have enough food and they lacked important basic items,” said Mr. Mattli.
“The additional strain placed on communities by hosting the displaced reached the point where it was more than they could bear.”
After carrying out an assessment of the situation, Mr. Mattli said the ICRC and the Nigerian Red Cross launched an emergency operation to meet urgent needs.
ICRC staff and more than a hundred Nigerian Red Cross volunteers distributed 960 metric tonnes of food and other relief items to 51,000 displaced persons.
Most displaced people who arrived in Maiduguri in the past few months were settled in government buildings, schools or official camps.
Some stayed with relatives or host families, with whom they shared scant resources, while others found refuge in informal settlements.
Whatever their living arrangements, the displaced cannot afford to buy their own food and, therefore, have had to depend on aid provided by the state or on the generosity of others to survive.
“In the short term, the aid we have just distributed will improve significantly the well-being of the displaced,” said Janet Angelei, an ICRC economic-security specialist working in Nigeria.
“The kitchen sets, blankets, soap, mats, hygiene items and tarpaulins we have provided will meet some of their immediate needs and reduce the burden on the hosting families.”
The ICRC also distributed about a month’s supply of rice, beans, oil and salt.
“Since fleeing our homes, we had not received any significant help,” Abdullahi Abuya, from Konduga is quoted to have said.
“Some of us had barely had anything to eat for weeks, but now things are better.”
Because of the displaced people arriving in Maiduguri, the centre’s catchment population has now been put in excess of 100,000.
Meanwhile, the ICRC said civilians fleeing fighting between the Nigerian Army and armed groups have recently arrived in the Diffa area, in Niger Republic.
The displaced persons, mainly women and children, are said to have arrived from the Abadam area and Nigerian villages near Lake Chad.