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Agonies of Rivers flood victims

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By Davies Iheamnachor

AKIONISO- SNAKE and other reptiles have invaded Akioniso, Akinima, Mbiama,  Joinkrama 1, 2 and 3  communities overrun by flood in Rivers State, while government has not deployed medial team to attend to thousands of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, suffering from rash and other skin diseases caused by their bathing, cooking and drinking of polluted water.

Shocking NEMA response

Paramount ruler of Akioniso community, Onisobuana Alabrima, who confirmed eruption of skin diseases in the area, lamented that the only help they had received from the government was five canopies donated by National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA.

Alabrima said: “We have lost everything, food items and house material. We do not have food again, no plantain and cassava. NEMA, few days ago, brought five canopies for us and we gave it to some youths. Some of our people use canoes and others to move in the flood in the night and after that, your body will start to scratch you.  The bodies of most of our people are filled with rashes.”

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“People are sick. There is no water to drink. Some people drink this water because there is no option. Many people are purging. Now I have my own first aid which I carry sometimes, so any one that is purging we give them that one before we rush to the hospital.

No health intervention

“There is no health assistance from any quarters at the moment. Till now we have not seen anything. We need good health care system and we need food items because we have lost all we have to the flood.”

“One woman left here due to the rush of the water, she went to the farm and she drowned. Her name is Victoria Akari. The incident caused panic in the community and people stopped going to the farm to harvest their crops,” he added.

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Food shortage alert

Another traditional ruler, Chief Denis Warman, who spoke to NDV, said: “The hunger we envisage that our people will face after the flood is already setting panic in the community. Again the government negligence as regards this flood and the people who are suffering here is worrisome. It is only God and we that are here that know what we are going through.”

“Unfortunately, the government we thought will come to our aid is just there behaving strangely. All they are doing is just mere sham. The government has not made any effort over this flood,” he complained.

His words: “There is outbreak of diseases everywhere and reptiles are coming into the communities at will. The kids cannot go to school anymore because everywhere is flooded.”

Displaced persons bemoan

When NDV visited Akinima community, 10-year-old girl, Beauty Morrison with rashes, stated: “Flood water is what caused the rash because I bathe with it every day. I have not started taking medicine. Its over two weeks this rash came out in my body. It scratches me very bad and I do not sleep well in the night.”

Also, 18-year- old resident, Chisom Joseph, said: “We are suffering here because of this water, it is affecting me. As you see me, I have the skin problem, my private part is affected.  It is the water that is causing it because we bathe with it. The water is polluted and poisonous.”

The body of Beauty Morrison, with rashes

“I am not taking drugs now because there is nowhere to get it. Even the chemists we go to mix drugs have all closed and packed out. Water has covered everywhere. We are calling on NEMA to come and help us. We are calling on doctors to come and save us from this problem,” he said.

Residents relocate to roadside

Joseph revealed: “From Mbiama, almost every family stays on the road where the flood has not covered. We sleep by the road side, cook and eat there. I have bought three canopies that we mount by the road side to serve as shelter for our people.”

“NEMA and government should know what to do. There is no provision for mosquito nets, no drug and no shelter. We have not received any health intervention. I am surprised at the attitude of the government,” he retorted.

SOS from IDPs camp

Chairman of one of the IDP camps in Akinima, Mr. Anthony Vincent, told our reporter: “The level of mosquito here is much. We are dying of mosquitoes here. Please I want the press to help us and beg the government to forgive us if we have sinned against them and help  us.

“Most people here are sick. I am here with them. There is skin disease here. If you see some people skin, you will shock. In the night, you cannot stay here at all. So we need mosquito nets. We have over 30 families living in this town hall.

Activist blasts NEMA

A Non-Governmental Organization, Social Action, which visited the area, corroborated the claim of villagers that flood was causing sickness to the residents bathing and drinking the dirty water.

A canopy hosuing five displaced families in the area

The group’s Research and Project Officer, Social Action, Fyneface Dumanamene, said: “We visited Mbiama, Akioniso, Akinima, Joinkrama 1, 2 and 3 and we saw everywhere was taken over by flood. There is no dry land, government does not need to wait anymore to declare emergency in these areas.

“Some of these communities do not have any place to stay at all. The same suffering people faced in 2012 is repeating itself this year again. They should not just declare these places disaster zone; they should come to the aid of the people,” he added.

He regretted that NEMA could only provide canopies to the area after collecting over N3 billion from the FG, adding that residents of the areas still depend on the polluted water.

“NEMA has only provided five canopies for the people to stay in and that is all, I do not know why that should be all they could do when about N3 billion was given to them to handle this case. People here need water, food, drugs and shelter to be comfortable at least in the face of these challenges,” he said.

His words: “We saw a lot of children and families who depend on this water. I saw them bathing in the water. They use the water to soak the cassava they eat. You see a lot of children with rashes on their body.”

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