Health attendants record 70 cases of malaria, diarrhoea daily
SEMA cries out, lament FG, NEMA’s indifference
By Peter Duru
Makurdi—Several victims of the herdsmen crisis in Benue State currently taking refuge at the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camp in Daudu have come down with malaria, diarrhoea, malnutrition, leading to the death of 12 of the displaced persons in the last one month.
Children are also not speared as many are diagnosed of malnutrition and diarrhea.
Vanguard gathered yesterday from a health personnel at the Daudu 1 & 2 camps that but for the relentless intervention of the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and the state government, the situation would have gotten out of hand.
According to her, “the people are getting sick and some die, while others are surviving. In the last one month so many came down with malaria.
“We see between 50 and 70 patients every day and about 40 of them are down with malaria and others with diarrhea. They come with complains of headache, pains, fever and all of that which were confirmed to be malaria.
“The death rate is not so high because of the intervention of the state government and the Red Cross, but there have been deaths. In the last one month two died of malaria at the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, BSUTH, Makurdi, while ten others died in the Daudu camps.
“As for children, malnutrition is on a very high rate. It’s a major problem with children in the camp. But for the Red Cross intervention it would have been worse.
“At the moment Red Cross has undertaken a programme to stem malnutrition among the children. They are being given food and packs of nutritional diet called Plumpy Nuts each week, which is monitored by the Red Cross to check the malnutrition problem.”
One of the victims in the camp, Ucha Ikpachi who lamented over the rate of illness and deaths in the camp appealed to the Federal Government to show more concern to their plight and help them return to their ancestral homes.
He said: “The state government and other organisations have been doing their best for us, but the situation is overwhelming for them. We are falling sick and people are dying almost every week now. Why has the Federal Government abandoned us, are we not Nigerians?
“They are not supporting us in anyway but have left us to die here while our villages are still being attacked and taken over by herdsmen. We want our villages secured so that we can go home and continue with our farming, we are tired of staying here.”
Reacting, the Executive Secretary of the Benue State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, Emmanuel Shior who confirmed the development lamented that the state government had been overwhelmed by the humanitarian crisis in the state.
Shior said: “That the IDPs have died does not mean that state government is not doing anything. The government is doing its best with local and foreign partners, but you know that the problem is very huge; it’s a very huge humanitarian crisis that we have here in Benue State.
“IDPs camps are all over Benue state in several communities. In part of Makurdi, in fact we have them in nine council wards of Guma local government area that is made up of 10 council wards. Nine council wards are totally sacked by herdsmen.
“Some communities in Logo, Gwer West, Gwer East, Agatu, Okpokwu local government areas, and Moon community in Kwande local government area are also affected. It is beyond the state government, which is why other groups and individuals are here rendering support.
“I need to be frank with you, the Federal Government has not paid the right attention to the Benue problem. Federal government is supposed to pay serious attention to what is happening here through the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA.
“I must say that the humanitarian challenge in Benue is similar to what is happening in the North East, especially if you look at the total population of the displaced people.
“At the moment with the current update that I am doing which is yet to be completed, there are over 400,000 IDPs because I am not focusing only on IDPs within government approved camps.
“I am looking at IDPs that are everywhere within the camps and within the host communities. So our focus is to try and capture all the displaced people in Benue as a result of the crisis.
Continuing, Shior said, “So this is a huge problem that cannot be left on the shoulders of the state government alone but the Federal Government, as the father, has not helped us as it should.
“NEMA just came to Benue twice since the crisis broke out with relief material that was not impressive at all compared to the situation on ground. They talked about coming again but we have not seen them as I speak with you.
“The fact is that if the Federal Government had shown commitment to alleviating the plight of the victims most of the deaths being recorded would have been averted.
“Why I said so is that, if the Federal Government had paid enough attention to the Benue problem perhaps the IDPs wouldn’t have stayed up till this time because it is a security problem.
“We all know that it is the Federal Government that is in charge of the military, the police and other security agencies. So if President Muhammadu Buhari had paid enough attention and given matching orders to the security agencies to address the security challenge in Benue, the IDPs would have gone back to their homes because that is what they cry for every day.
“Whenever I visit or the governor visits, they cry that there is no place like home and that they want to return to their homes but the state government cannot address the security challenge because it falls outside its capacity.
“So when I cry and blame the Federal Government it is on two counts, its failure to address the security problem as it should and its failure to provide relief materials to the IDPs.”