The Benue State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) has disclosed that 80 babies were delivered in its Internally Displaced Persons (IDP s) camps in the state in seven months.
This was disclosed by the Executive Secretary of SEMA, Dr Emmanuel Shior, on Friday during the agency’s monthly distribution of relief materials to the IDPs.
He said that the deliveries were registered by the agency and most of the IDPs were staying with their partners and this accounted for the high number of births recorded in the camps.
“The agency is very strict on illicit sexual affairs in the camps. It is very difficult to control the tide of births in the camps, the IDPs are human beings.
“It is the nature of man, even when they don’t have food to eat, they have the desire for sex; that cannot be taken away from the IDPs. Most of them have their families at the camps.
“The aspect we try to control is unmarried people sleeping with each other; other unlawful sexual acts are also forbidden in the camps,” the SEMA boss said.
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Shior, therefore, said that the agency would distribute 3000 bags of rice, 2000 bags of maize and guinea corn, 1000 cartons of noodles, bags of garri and beans to all IDPs in the state.
He said the relief materials would be distributed to IDPs in Makurdi, Guma, Logo, Agatu, Gwer West, Kwande and Okpokwu camps, among others.
The executive secretary said that the agency was doing everything within its powers to ensure that the IDPs enjoyed some level of comfort while in the camp.
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Given the vile herdsmen attacks on Benue communities that set off full blast on New Year’s Day of 2018, the state can be tagged undeniably as the hub of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in the country.
And with those attacks forcing about two million people into close to 30 official and unofficial IDPs camps scatted across the state, Benue can best be described as the epicenter of humanitarian crisis in Nigeria at the moment.
The state is currently facing the worst human, economic, environmental, social and infrastructural desecration unleashed on it by series of countless unbridled attacks by armed herdsmen.
The attacks have also led to the death of thousands of the farming populace while schools, markets, hospitals, houses, power supply, farmland, food barns and social amenities have been destroyed by the invaders.
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While the Samuel Ortom administration, in the last four years, has relentlessly grappled with the situation despite obvious signs that the development has overwhelmed its capacity to cope, the Federal Government, according to the state government, prefers to turn a blind eye to the herdsmen induced disaster in the state.
Official figures have it that over 800,000 Benue children are currently displaced and taking refuge in the camps and host communities across the state.
And of this number, according to the Executive Director of Community Links and Human Empowerment Initiative, CLHEI, Dr. Helen Teghtegh, who works closely with the IDPs, not up to 10 per cent of the displaced children have any access to education.
Teghtegh noted that, aside lack of access to education, most of the children in the camps have had to carry on without access to medical care.
She said, “It is as bad as that because it’s been a huge issue and a challenge that the state is burdened with.
“In terms of education with a population of over 800,000 children living in the camps as a result of the attacks, whatever effort that is ongoing is like a drop in an ocean.
“Greater numbers are still out of school. I only recently I bought a form for a 16-year-old girl to write common entrance, who was out of primary school when she was 14 years due to the attacks.
“Her type is just loitering about and as a result they are potential victims of traffickers. They are also exposed to early child marriage and child labour. “People also go to pick them as house helps. And in the course of that, some of them are abused sexually.
“I can also bet you that not up to 10 percent of the displaced children are in school. Though there are one or two facilities set up in some camps which are not a formal school.
“At some point you see teachers go there, volunteers also go there for sometime’ but when their resources are exhausted, because they have to transport themselves, they stop going to teach the children.
“Moreover it is not everybody that is enrolled. And this response in the camps is basically for primary school children. So the post primary school children are suffering.
“Most of them cannot go to secondary school because their parents cannot afford it.
“And then of course those who managed to go through secondary school are not able to register for WAEC or NECO.
“Again, most of the camps have no clinics. So, when children come down with ailment, those who have money would afford some medication but those who do not have suffer the impact because the camps are much and the state government and partners cannot be in all at the same time because the burden is overwhelming without the intervention of the Federal Government.
“Regrettably the Federal Government has failed to pay attention to our situation in Benue.”
Recounting the ordeals of the IDPs at the Daudu l (Shelter) camp, a health personnel attached to the camp, Mr. Lazarus Gbam, lamented that children in the camp often suffer some medical conditions including malaria, malnutrition as well as diarrhoea and vomiting.
“The major health challenge we have in the camp among children is malaria, malnutrition and sometimes stooling and vomiting. When they fall sick we refer them to FSP Clinic Daudu.
“As for the education of the children, we have an emergency school in the camp for the children though it is not the formal school, it is the government’s way of ensuring that the children get access to education,” he said.
At the Naka IDPs camp in Gwer West LGA, the Camp Manager, Mr. Matthew Asaaga, disclosed that the children in the camp were living in extreme condition.
Asaaga said: “The situation of children in the camp is very bad. There is no healthcare facility in the camp and there is no school for the children as well.
“When the children fall sick, and since there is no money to take them to hospitals, their parents resort to herbal remedy or treatment for them.
“As I speak with you eight of them are sick with malaria and typhoid which is the common ailment in the camp and there is no single health facility in the camp.
“Malnutrition, stooling and vomiting among the little children is also another health concern we have in the camp. The situation is too huge for the state government such that no matter how the government tries, it would not be able to meet the food and health needs of the IDPs without support from the Federal Government which is not coming.
“They cannot access hospitals because there is no money. There is a private hospital close-by but it costs money.
“The situation would have worse, but for the monthly food supply we get from the state government through the State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA.
“But the fact is that the state government cannot do it all alone and meet the needs of the IDPs if the Federal Government does not step in, and urgently too.”