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Boundary dispute: Over 10,000 Ebonyi indigenes access free medical treatment

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…as SEMA, international organisations embark on rescue mission in Ebonyi

By Peter Okutu

ABAKALIKI-THE people  of Azu Offia Orji in Okpuitumo of Abakaliki local government area of Ebonyi State are currently facing untold challenges in the area of medical attention, security, nutrition and hygiene, education and a sense of belonging, following the negative impact of the adverse dispute between them and the people of Isopong in Obubura of Cross River State.

Ebonyi indigenes waiting to get medical attention

South East Voice investigations revealed that over 25 persons had so far died because of the crisis as the people are now in dire need of different types of aids from federal and State government and humanitarian groups within and outside the country.

Following the nature of the crisis which centred majorly on a boundary dispute, no fewer than 5,000 children had been displaced as a total of 10,000 members of Okpuitumo community are now in dire need shelter, a source of income in order to raise their children for a better tomorrow.

Bullet wound on her left leg

The case of one Mrs. Mary NnaNnaji was very pathetic. She lost her husband during the wake of the crisis and she is pregnant. She sustained a bullet wound on her left leg and had no hope of how to take care of her two children.

She told South East Voice, “I lost my husband during the clash. If you look at my leg I sustained a bullet wound that requires urgent medical attention. I don’t know how to feed my two children. We don’t know what the future holds for us. We lost everything as a result of the crisis. God where are you?”

As the people of Okpuitumo are still wondering what the future holds for them, Ebonyi State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, in partnership with some Non Governmental Organizations, NGO, such as Amanda Marge Universal Relief Team, AMURT and Participatory Development Alternative, ADP decided to provide them with relief materials and free medical care to enable them forget about their sorrows.

Relief materials donated by Red Cross and other groups to displaced Ebonyi indigenes

However, despite these humanitarian services, the number of those affected had made the impact a less celebrated gesture as the people are seen on a regular basis either scrambling for food and medication to keep body and soul together. When South East Voice visited the affected community, it was gathered that make-shift health centres was being operated by AMURT to attend to the urgent health needs of the growing population in the area.

Executive Secretary of EBSEMA, Pastor Ken Nwabueze Oziomaeze, stated that the present administration was making frantic effort to ameliorate the condition of the people through regular donations of aids and partnerships with other organizations for sustainable humanitarian services to the people.

He noted, “What happened was that since this crisis started SEMA has been at the forefront to see that the affected persons are helped; last two weeks we came here with AMURT and PDA.

“We had an agreement to partner to see what we can do to cushion the effect of the crisis on the people of this land. What we saw here amazed us; we saw children who are suffering from malnutrition and other related illnesses;  and saw that it was necessary for us to come with drugs, food items. Government has spent so much in this outreach through SEMA.

“We have just begun and we believe that we are going to take this exercise to the next level. We believe that we are not going to leave them at this level; we have to go into rehabilitation and reconstruction of the damaged houses. I want to call on other organizations and donor agencies as well as individuals to copy from what AMURT and PDA are doing because there is no way we could have been able to reach the number of people affected today if not for the partnership of AMURT and PDA. So am calling on organizations, well meaning Nigerians to come and join hands with SEMA to assist these displaced persons.”

Also, the Chief Executive Director of PDA, Mrs. Eze Victoria Ebere, stated that her organization in partnership with SEMA and AMURT decided to storm the affected community to provide them with relief materials and free medication. According to her, if not for the prompt intervention on ground, there would have been cases of disease outbreak and uncontrollable form of malnutrition among the children.

Outbreakof diseases

Ebere said, “PDA has been working with Offio Orji community and it happened that two years ago, we trained them on emergency preparedness and linked them up with SEMA and when they had clash with their Cross River counterparts, they called on our office and informed us; we in turn informed ActionAid International Nigeria, AAIN.

“ActionAid decided to support the intervention with one million naira and that’s why we are here today. We brought food stuff; SEMA in collaboration brought drugs and free medical treatment while AMURT which has been on ground equally partnered with PDA for the intervention to come true.

“There would have been outbreaks of diseases if not for the interventions of different organizations; for instance two weeks ago, when we visited the community, we saw a lot of children with malnutrition. If nothing was done, I wonder what would have happened.

“I want to use the opportunity to call on the state government to intervene because if you come to the community, it is really a sorry sight; a woman was shot in her leg; she equally lost her husband and one of the sons is looking so malnourished. Last week when we visited, the boy’s leg was swollen and so, other organizations need to come to the affected community to give them adequate support.”

X-raying the condition of the people, the Project Officer of AMURT, Mr. Ibiam Iroorji, who noted that the NGO had been on ground since the outbreak of the crisis stated that AMURT had carried out enumerations of different categories of those affected with a view to assisting them improve their health state and living standard.  Items distributed to the affected community included: bags of rice, drugs for the treatment of cough, hypertension, test kits, beverages, beans, crayfish, magi, mosquito treated nets, soap, sugar, salt among others.

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