Presidency Frowns At UN’s Claims of Starvation, Death in IDP Camps

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(Last Updated On: 2016-12-05)

Nahimat Adekoga

 

The presidency has faulted United Nation report that about one million persons in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in the North-Eastern region of Nigeria might die due to mass starvation.

A statement signed by Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Garba Shehu, in Abuja on Sunday, described the claim by the agencies as incoherent and unacceptable considering the reputation they had built over the years.

While some agencies screamed that a million persons would die next year, another alleged that 100, 000 will die in 2017.

According to the statement,  the Federal Government is concerned about these blatant attempts to whip up a nonexistent fear of mass starvation by the aid agencies.

He argued that the claim was a hype that does not provide solution to the situation on the ground but was aimed at secure local and foreign funds.

The special adviser explained that since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office, he has mobilized state mechanisms to deal with all the challenges facing the people, particularly the IDPs.

He noted that the affected states with active collaboration with NEMA and the recently inaugurated Presidential Committee on North-East Initiative (PCNI), were deeply involved in efforts to cushion the humanitarian challenges especially on food security and nutrition.

Garba stressed that through an ongoing arrangement, NEMA provides raw foodstuff to IDPs at formal camps, self-settled centres, host communities and satellite centres.

He said that beyond the IDPs camps, government agencies had been distributing food in host communities while the “T.Y Danjuma-led PCNI is currently doing this in Borno.

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“In addition to the supply of food, the Federal Government through NEMA and the PCNI has made the provision of drugs to some major hospitals in the zone a priority. These agencies have also been deploying on continuous basis, medical teams and equipment to the North-East to support the provision of medi-care to the IDPs.

“There are also search and rescue vehicles in service in the region as well the deployment of a revolving fund at major hospitals in Maiduguri and Yola to ensure full treatment of victims of insurgents’ attacks and sick IDPs.

“Government has also been providing skills and empowerment equipment to IDPs side by side with education for children in camps and the U.N. Safe Schools Initiative (SSI),” he added.

He said the humanitarian situation in the North-East is already complex and challenging but, the recent successes by the Nigerian military against the terrorists had led to the releases of thousands of people held against their wish in the forests.

He said,  “The captives come to government camps famished, ragged, poorly nourished and mostly ill, released from the hunger and acute shortages of basic necessities of life on account of the effective sieges of Sambisa forest by the military.”

The President spokesman, however, expressed Nigeria’s appreciation for the increasing humanitarian assistance which continued to complement the efforts of the federal and state governments in the Northeast region.

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“So, while local and international humanitarian responders including the United Nations have done an immeasurable amount of effort filling in the gaps wherever they existed, it is not true as these reports have indicated that 100,000 or even a million people will die because government is unable to provide care at the camps.

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“This country has a responsible government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, which is doing a lot to bring relief to the displaced people,” he said.

He reassured that the Nigerian Government which had been making the most efforts in the entire endeavor would continue to work closely with the local and international response groups to overcome this humanitarian crisis.

“At this time when the focus is gradually shifting toward rehabilitation, reconstruction, resettlement, recovery and the dignified return of IDPs back home, we can do with all the support out there in the donor community.

“We do not, however, see the reason for the theories and hyperbolic claims being made ostensibly to draw donor support by some of the aid agencies.

“The situation on the ground, as it exists, provides sufficient motivation to all well-meaning donors to come and do a decent part. The hype, especially that which suggests that the government is doing nothing is therefore uncharitable and unnecessary.

 

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