By Peter Duru
MAKURDI—No fewer than 22,000 out of the 27,454 children currently taking refuge in the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camps at Daudu, Guma local government area and Abagena in the outskirts of Makurdi have come down with malnutrition.
Vanguard findings indicated that majority of the children in the two camps could hardly have enough to eat even as they defecate in the open.
At the LGEA Primary School camp and the Shelter Camp, all in Daudu, the health personnel in charge of both camps, an Assistant Chief Nursing Officer and a Nurse/Midwife, disclosed that the over 10,871 children in both camps had come down with malnutrition.
“All the children in our camps have become malnourished, the crisis has started taking its toll directly on the affected children. It is a challenge we are facing presently and it is obviously not good for growing children.
“The reason for this development cannot be farfetched, they are not eating well. And the truth is that the Benue state government has been overwhelmed, the government is carrying a burden that two states put together cannot carry.
“There is an urgent need for federal government and international intervention to help cater for these IDPs, who are close to 180,000 in eight locations across the state because the state government is already overwhelmed.”
Findings at the Abagena camp, which houses over 16,583 children, also indicated that over 75 percent of the children were malnourished.
According to the health personnel at the camp, a Nursing Officer 1, “one of the health challenges we have in this camp is malnutrition among the children
“At the moment over 75 percent of the children in this camp are malnourished which not a good development is at all.
“Though the state government and public-spirited individuals and organisations have been coming to make donations of food and non-food items to the victims, how far can such gestures go?
“The resources of the state government are already overstretched because the state government provides the bulk of the needs of this people.
“But for how long will this continue? Just take a look at the multitude in this camp alone. The federal government must do all within its powers to have these people return to their ancestral homes quickly before the situation gets out of hand.”