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Published On: Thu, Mar 13th, 2014

United States supports NEMA on rapid response, casualty crisis

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The United States Department of Diplomatic Security Services is partnering with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in the area of crisis management and response involving mass casualty figures.

To this effect, members of the team were in the Abuja Headquarters of NEMA to assess the agency’s disasters management and response, especially relating to the Boko Haram insurgency with the view to identifying areas of assistance.

Nigeria Programme Manager for Department of State Office of Anti-terrorism, Gonzalez Anthony, said that the visit would afford the department and the US know-how to fill in the gaps in NEMA’s responses to disasters.

“We are into engagement with NEMA in crisis management, response and how the US government can assist in bringing future training to the agency and government.

“We take what has happened in the past and we try to build on how to adequately response to all the gaps and capabilities that are being developed within the plans that NEMA has.

“We, as a department and nation, are here to assist in trying to fill the needs and gaps that are being identified by NEMA,” he stated.

Earlier, Director-General of NEMA, Muhammad Sani-Sidi, who gave an overview of how his agency coordinates disaster management in the country, said that NEMA only provides succour to thousands of people displaced as a result of the insurgency. He stated that the visit was in continuation of the engagement that Nigeria and NEMA have with the US government, saying that the US Embassy has helped in developing the Nigerian pandemic response plan.

“The US Embassy has been helping in so many areas. This is part of the engagement we have with the US Government and they are here in continuation of this engagement to assist us, looking at plans, critical management and see how they can assist us looking at identifiable gaps,” Sidi stated.

The DG further said that NEMA has mapped-out a comprehensive National Disaster Response plan in many stages, to help it overcome disaster response challenges facing the country, adding that it has recently in conjunction with United States African Command (USAFRICOM) unveiled a Pandemic Disaster plan, to help it face the growing challenges.

The North-East Zonal Coordinator of NEMA has disclosed that its rescue and rehabilitation officers are assisting the displaced people from the Boko Haram insurgency in all affected states in the zone. This has coincided with increasing terror in the region.

He said the collaborative effort of all agencies of government in the zone has been very helpful in the safety and protection of the people and in the distribution of relief materials. “The military, police, SSS, Red Cross, Civil Defence Corps and other NGOs and volunteers groups have been very supportive in our activities,” he added.

It was further discovered that most of the Internally Displaced People (IDPs) had shunned the camps set up by the agency for fear of being attacked by the insurgents at such facilities. He said they preferred to stay with relatives in towns.

Furthermore, the Agency said it has so far registered over 55,000 displaced people in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa as a result of the insurgency in the last few weeks. This was disclosed by the Information Officer of the agency in the North-east, Abdulkadir Ibrahim, who told newsmen in Maiduguri that due to fear of attacks, more people were fleeing their homes in villages around Maiduguri and trooping to the state capital in search of safety while many others in the southern part of the state are moving to major towns in Adamawa state. He also said NEMA had assisted the victims with food, mattresses, blankets and clothes.

Terrorists suspected to be members of Boko Haram Sect have attacked various villages in Adamawa, Yobe and Borno States since the beginning of 2014 forcing many residents out of their homes.

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