Unusual illnesses ravage As food and medical supplies run out in the IDP camps in Benue

Unusual illnesses ravage As food and medical supplies run out in the IDP camps in Benue

THE dire condition of internally displaced persons, IDPs, in Benue State has become a major source of concern requiring urgent intervention. The state is currently grappling with over two million IDPs taking refuge in camps and host communities, but to make matters worse is the deteriorating condition of the IDPs in their temporary camps abode.

From the army of children and youths who have been deprived of basic social amenities and the opportunity to attend school to nursing mothers who now use toilets as delivery rooms, in addition to the outbreak of strange ailments, the Benue IDP camps may be mistaken for enclaves for rejected and forgotten people.

The recent reports of pregnant women and their husbands, as well as some victims of ravaging diseases in one of the camps located in Agagbe, an isolated community in Gwer West Local Government Area, LGA, of the state, have left many in utter shock and disbelief. The IDPs seemed to have been abandoned to their fate; aside from the peripheral support and intervention they get from spirited organizations, there is nothing concrete in terms of medical support and food supplies.

One of the mothers who lost her baby in the camp, 27-year-old Shipinen Adoo, from Tse-Atakpa village, Sengev Council Ward, who lives in the camp with her husband, narrated her ordeal. She said: “I became pregnant while in the IDP camp, and I struggled because we had no money to access medical treatment until a few days ago, when I gave birth to a dead premature baby boy. I have also not felt well since then. That is the condition most of us are facing in the camp, yet nothing is being done to save the lives of those who need urgent intervention.”

Also, 40-year-old Ayoo Ngwa narrated how his pregnant wife was taken into a latrine in the camp for the delivery of her baby for lack of proper support. “When my pregnant wife started noticing that she wanted to deliver her child, she was taken to a latrine for delivery. Though not a  healthy place, that is where most women in the camp are taken for delivery. That is what we are facing in the camp. Nobody cares about our situation. We have been abandoned to our fate,” he lamented.

Meanwhile, another 40-year-old mother of three, Tuna Agagbe, whose child is afflicted with a strange skin disease, also narrated her experience. She said: “Few days ago, my daughter Eucharia started scratching her body. I went and bought some medicine for her, but her condition got worse everyday, and now it has developed into wounds. I don’t know what to do next since I have no money to take her to the hospital to find out what is wrong and get treatment. As we speak, many children are also down with skin diseases.”

Speaking on the development, the camp manager, Jacob Ibaah, lamented that the IDPs were facing a dire situation that needed urgent intervention. According to him, two inmates had already lost their babies in the last few days. “One was a premature birth, the other one lost the baby while giving birth. Both incidents happened on Sunday and Monday last week.

“As we speak, there is hunger in the camp. Also, they (pregnant women) have no money to go to the hospital; so they delivered in the camp. Even a place to give birth is also a problem here; there is a space and a toilet built by Doctors Without Borders, or MSF, which is where most women here use for baby delivery. If they don’t have money to go to the hospital, they use the toilet. They give birth there since we are currently congested in the rooms. It’s really tough. And the State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, is aware of this development.

“Also, there is also the issue of an outbreak of measles and other diseases here in the camp. Already, we have identified six children who are down with measles, and they have yet to receive medical attention. But as an alternative, they are taking native herbs. It is indeed a bad situation,” he informed.

Speaking on the condition of the IDPs, the Executive Secretary of Benue SEMA, Mr. James Iorpuu, who claimed that the agency was on top of the situation, said: “I allotted 200 bags of rice to them during the last food distribution exercise.”


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