Most IDPs Suffer Lack of Food, Potable Water, Healthcare 

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(Last Updated On: 2016-09-22)

Latest survey results released by NOIPolls Limited has revealed that the vast majority of IDPs in the North-East lack access to food, potable water and healthcare. Analysis shows that almost 9 in 10 IDPs (85 percent) do not have access to quality food and regular meals, about 8 in 10 IDPs (78 percent) do not have access to potable water, while almost 7 in 10 IDPs (69 percent) lack access to quality healthcare. These results represent a general overview of what is happening in both official and unofficial camps, across Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.

In the words of some key stakeholders interviewed:

The quality of food in IDP camps is inadequate particularly for lactating mothers, young children and the elderly  Legal Practitioner & Civil Society Advocate

The water is not enough for us. Dont you see the long queue here? Since yesterday they have not put on the engine to pump water For drinking, if those that are assisting us bring diesel, then we will have water. But if they do not come we will not have water to drink. I have to send my son out there to beg for water It has been over a week now.  Internally Displaced Person in Shuwari Camp Maiduguri

Most us do not know where to go when we are sick because the health facility in the camp is grossly inadequate to carter for our health challenges and so we have to seek alternative means or the situation gets worse. The Doctors are nowhere to be found in most cases as they are always away and even when they are around, they give us the same kind of drugs for all ailments  Internally Displaced Person in Bakassi Camp, Maiduguri.

Finally, from the survey it is clearly obvious that the overall welfare of IDPs in the North-East is quite deplorable. Hence, it is imperative that Government, INGOs, CSOs, FBOs and other relevant stakeholders synergize properly and use these research findings to proffer solutions to the plights of IDPs in North-Eastern Nigeria. These are some of the key findings from the on-the-ground assessment Survey examining the situation of IDPs in North-Eastern Nigeria. The survey was conducted by NOIPolls over a period of 4 weeks in the month of July 2016.

Brief Background

According to a 2016 report by the United Nations, the Boko Haram insurgency has resulted into severe population displacement, disruption in livelihoods and acute food insecurity in Nigeria. The North eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe have been the worst hit areas, with the areas witnessing several thousand deaths and millions of residents forced to abandon their homes in search of a safe haven; most of the IDPs take shelter in official camps, unofficial camps and host communities.

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A recent assessment by the medical team of an International medical humanitarian organization, Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), revealed that there is a health crisis in IDP camps in North-east Nigeria with about 24,000 cases recorded in a camp in Bama, Borno State. More than 1,200 graves, many of them for children, have been dug near the camp in the last year alone according to MSF.  The huge number of pregnant women, nursing mothers and children with little or no access to good medical health care facilities have surged the number of avoidable deaths in most of the camps.

Over the years, the Federal government, State governments, the United Nations, Private donors, INGOs, CSOs and FBOs as well as other relevant stakeholders have committed funds, introduced several interventions to ameliorate the sufferings of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the sub-region and improve on their general welfare. Sadly, it appears their conditions have not improved considerably as echoed by anecdotal evidences and other indications on the Nigeria media. For example, there was a protest recently by IDPs in Borno state. It was against this background that NOIPolls conducted an on-the-ground situational assessment survey on the state of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.

Key Findings

Poor Access to Food

Overall, the findings revealed that there is serious inadequacy of food and dietary needs for IDPs across camps in the three focal states. Analysis of the survey data showed that about 85 percent of IDPs do not have access to adequate food, leaving only about 15 percent who claimed they have access to food. The reality here is that IDPs dont eat up to three times a day; at most they feed twice a day across. Typically, IDPs are mainly provided with staple foods which do not deliver enough nutrition especially for babies, children, lactating mothers and the elderly. In the words of a stakeholder:

The quality of food in IDP camps is inadequate particularly for lactating mothers, young children and the elderly  Legal Practitioner & Civil Society Advocate

Difficulty Accessing Clean Water

On access to potable water, 78 percent of IDPs described access to water as either Poor (63%) or Very Poor (15%). Only 10 percent of IDPs rated access to clean water as Average, while 12 percent considered access to clean water as Good (7%) or Very Good (5%). Some challenges often associated with water in most camps include lack of diesel to pump water from boreholes, which often results into a situation of water scarcity for several days, leading to poor hygiene and sanitary conditions, and incidence of deaths in IDP camps.

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Access to Healthcare

The survey revealed that access to basic health care in IDP camps is very poor as 7 in 10 IDPs (69 percent) indicated that they do not have access to healthcare, with only 31 percent affirming some access to healthcare. Most of the camps visited could not boast of decent medical personnel and facilities to provide basic First-aid when the need arises. Majority of the key stakeholders interviewed attested to the inadequacy of healthcare personnel and facilities in the IDP camps, particularly for post-natal care.

Also, most key informants stated that a portion of the female IDP population lack access to sanitary pads.

Evidence of Human Right Violation and Sexual Abuse

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The data provided evidences highlighting issues of human right violation and sexual abuse of IDPs, perpetrated by various persons, ranging from unscrupulous camp officials and members of host communities (for unofficial camps), to older IDPs taking advantage of the younger vulnerable IDPs. From the survey, about 7% of IDPs indicated that they know someone who had been sexually abused on the camp. Regardless of the degree, we reckon that evidence of sexual abuse isnt an issue that should be handled lightly; especially as the IDPs confirmed that the abuse was perpetrated by camp officials (66%), members of host communities (28%), and elders (6%).

From our visit to some of the IDP camps, we found it disturbing that the rights of movements are being infringed upon, as camps have been turned into semi prison yards where IDPs are treated more like prisoners, and deprived of their human rights such as free movements in and out of the camps, owning phones, or communicating with the outside world.  With the level of hardship experienced by IDPs, there was evidence to suggest the existence of the practice of Sex for food or even Sex for freedom of movement in and out of the camps. Sexual abuse and exploitation in some cases were voluntary, as some of the female IDPs actually offer themselves to men in exchange for food or money to purchase food and basic female sanitary requirements.

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I have reports of women being sexually harassed in camps by security agents, civilian JTF, and managers of camps. This information has reached us, we have investigated a few. We even an instance where a security agent raped a woman, who later gave birth to that child; and later we had to do interventions. Seriously this is happening in camps because from reports reaching us we have seen that there is sex in exchange for food, sex for freedom of movement in and out of the camps, and sex in exchange for money I think there is no camp that we have not received cases of sexual abuse and molestation.  Senior Female Lawyer & Advocate in Borno State

Rising Mortality of IDPs

Alarmingly, the survey revealed that the mortality rate across IDPs camps have been on the rise within the last few months, as 88 percent of IDPs indicated that there have been incidents of deaths in their camps over the last three months. This is likely triggered by the deplorable state of their welfare and poor sanitary conditions within the camps.

Rise in Social Vices

Further analysis of survey results indicated that, beyond the issue of insurgency, there is a troubling rise in social vice, especially among the younger population in IDP camps, who are now going into the consumption of illicit drugs, prostitution, gangsterism and other forms of social vices. In the words of some key stakeholders:

In the evenings the IDP girls, they use to sneak out and go to do some prostitution, and make some money so that they can buy food for themselves.  Senior Member of Borno Civil Society Coalition

Even amongst them, IDP to IDP, youngsters especially have started taking herbs and hard drugs. I was telling someone that until this crisis is over we will begin to count our losses because if you find out how our girls are being abused Senior CSO Member in Yobe State.

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