Health Humanitarian News

Cholera outbreak: Without urgent humanitarian aid, it’s a disaster waiting to happen

CP/SHETTIMA LAWAN

Healthcare workers have warned the government and humanitarian agencies that without urgent aid, many internally displaced people – particularly children and infants – in Dalori Camp 2 could die if there is an outbreak of cholera during this rainy season.

The camp, which is in Kofi village in the Konduga Local Government Area of Borno State, does not have enough clean drinking water and there are too few sanitation facilities, which forces some residents to defecate in the open. The residents also lack food, clean drinking water, as well as adequate healthcare and other social services.

The situation has become even more precarious because the state government banned local and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs), as well as humanitarian and other aid agencies, from supporting IDP camp residents.

But the major issue for healthcare workers now, during the rainy season, is the lack of hygiene, which could result in residents drinking or coming into contact with contaminated water and putting them at a greater risk of falling ill from cholera and other waterborne diseases.

They said that if there was an outbreak of cholera, it would be very difficult to control or handle because of the lack of healthcare facilities in the protective camp.

Some IDPs in the camp told RNI that life there had never been easy, but it had become much harder since the humanitarian support had stopped.

Zara Ali said: “I’m a displaced person, originally from the Bama Local Government Area. I went to live in the Kofa camp with my husband but, unfortunately, he passed away some years ago. I was left alone to raise my children. Sometimes I find some work as a domestic helper, cleaning and washing dishes and clothes in people’s homes so that I can feed my children.

“I am at the camp’s only clinic because my little baby has been very sick for almost six months now. But, in the past five days, her health has deteriorated. She is always vomiting and she cannot eat.

“The doctors told me that I’m lacking blood and milk in my breasts and that my baby is suffering from malnutrition and hunger. They gave me some tips on what I should eat and feed my little baby, who needs nutritious food and drinking clean water otherwise she could die. This is shocking. Right now I don’t know where to get normal food to eat, let alone the nutritious food I should be eating so that I can feed my baby healthy milk. I can’t even afford to buy the drugs that the doctors prescribed for me,” said Ali.

She said she was pleading with the government to allow humanitarian organisations and aid agencies to support people in IDP camps again. “Without their help, especially providing food and healthcare facilities, we cannot live a healthy life with our children.”

Abba Bukar Buraburaye said he had been living in Dalori IDP Camp 2 for almost six years. “We are suffering from hunger and various kinds of illnesses and there are not enough medicines, such as drugs, or healthcare equipment available in the clinic in the camp. So, if our children get a serious sickness or illness, such as cholera, malaria and typhoid, among other preventable deadly diseases, we cannot get the appropriate medical attention. That’s why sometimes we have to spend the little money we have to take our children to a clinic or hospital in the city to be treated properly. If you don’t have money to go to another hospital, then you could lose your beloved children.”

He said he did not even have enough money to feed his wife and two children. “We don’t have any means of sustaining our livelihoods. We cannot even farm. If we go 5km into the bushes and forest, the insurgents will kill us. We desperately need the government to provide adequate food and healthcare facilities. The government has told us we have to stay in this camp until it is safe to return to our ancestral homes. We really want to go back home.”

Mohammed Usman, a clinician at Dalori IDP Camp 2, told RNI that there was not enough medicine for the population of the camp. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other humanitarian agencies previously provided medical supplies.

“Before, the clinic received adequate medical supplies from UNICEF, in collaboration with the Borno State government and other humanitarian organisations. But now we do not have anywhere near the amount of supplies and equipment we need. It is a grave challenge providing help to the camp’s population. Apart from residents in the camp, people living close by also come to us to be treated and to get medicine.”

Usman said it was now in the rainy season that many people – particularly children and infants – fell ill to waterborne diseases, such as cholera.

“Our main concern is that if there is an outbreak of cholera, we will not be able to control it without adequate and essential healthcare facilities. We have spread the word to camp residents, giving them tips on how to keep their families healthy and prevent diseases. This is particularly important for nursing mothers. We are doing our best to avoid an outbreak of cholera. But the living conditions at the camp are poor. There are far too few toilets and, as a result, the living conditions are unhygienic. God forbid that there is a cholera outbreak. If there is, it will not only affect small children and babies, but also all the camp’s inhabitants.”

Usman said the situation was the same in most of the IDP camps.

“That’s why it is imperative for the government and humanitarian agencies to provide IDPs with as much support as possible, particularly with food, healthcare facilities and other social amenities. The government must allow humanitarian organisations back into the camps. It needs to take decisive measures to prevent a cholera outbreak. If it does not do this urgently, life in the camps – and even in the neighbouring communities – could become very dangerous. This is urgent. We need help now. Right now,” Usman said.

SHETTIMA LAWAN MONGUNO

About the author

Mbodou Hassane Moussa

Journaliste de formation et de profession. Passionné par l'écriture, le digital et les médias sociaux, ces derniers n'ont aucun secret pour lui. Il a embrassé très tôt l'univers des médias et de la Communication. Titulaire d'une Licence en journalisme et d'un Master en Management des projets, Mbodou Hassan Moussa est éditeur Web du journal en ligne Toumaï Web Médias. Aujourd'hui, il est devenu Webmaster à la Radio Ndarason internationale et collabore à la réalisation du journal en langue française et dialecte Kanembou.

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