Opinion

Kwashiokor in IDPcamps: shame of a nation

By Nnamdi Nwigwe

Recent reports of hunger and starvation,  emanating from the temporary government-provided abodes of victims of violence in the Boko Haram-infested areas of the North-East region, are disgusting.  Television footages with horrifying graphics from the Internally Displaced Persons, (IDP’s) Camps, reinforce the fact and the truth of the pathetic state of affairs in the Refugee Campsites.
Any Nigerian who is not appalled at the sight of the kwashiokor-afflicted and dying children in the encampments erected to give them succour, must be a strong soul indeed  or, a veteran war-hardened medical personnel.  And it reflects, in the boldest relief, the flop in governance and a prostrate government.
Put together, it is a crying shame of a nation! Politically speaking, one finds it unconscionable, that the Presidency should be witch-hunting the leadership of both the Legislature and the Security Units for perceived offences and is doing precious little to mitigate the trauma and suffering of innocent fellow compatriots, millions of them,  who are in make-shift shelters!
These are citizens who were uprooted from the comfort of their homes because government could not provide them  security in the first place.  The National Assembly had made half-hearted efforts to show concern by sending a Committee to visit one camp or the other. Just as the Vice-President had done, only after the horrific pictures of human disaster went viral!  Then they revert to their insensate and shameless shadow boxing. As was the case with Chibok case.
What of the State Governments in the afflicted areas? What do they do beyond scrambling up emergency reception centres for the human floatsam from the disturbed parts of their territory? There was even the equally disgraceful newspaper report of stealing of  relief materials in the camps and fighting by some security men struggling to help themselves with goods they are meant to protect.
On the social sphere, where are the Charity Organisations that cater for such inmates of IDP cantonments? One would specifically ask for the local Nigerian chapters of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent both of which share the same initials – ICRC? The media has not sufficiently reported their intervention in the IDP camps if indeed they are there. Or are they waiting for a foreign chapter to land before they wake up from sleep? What of the ubiquitous Doctors Without Borders( Medicines Sans Frontiers)? Has the news of the  human tragedy in the IDP camps in Northern Nigeria not reached them?
And finally, to us ordinary Nigerians;  are we really too helpless to help our innocent fellow compatriots trapped in the misery of life in relief camps?  Surely, in spite of our failed governments at all levels, including the loud silence of a crusading media to rouse the people into action, we can render some assistance.
We can organise local units to collect food items, clothes (both new and second hand), toilet items and medicines, as well as books and periodicals and get them delivered to the nearest military locations for onward transmission to the IDPs.  When we show concern, the world would take note and come to support.
Meanwhile, the much trumpeted victories by our gallant forces in flushing the terrorists from their previously occupied Local Government Areas, LGAs, should now translate to a gradual and organised return of the refugees to their abodes.  They need to rebuild their houses and cultivate their land to avoid famine next year.
Our President,  Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari, the Armed Forces of Nigeria and the Governors of the Boko Haram-ravaged States should realise that Boko Haram insurgency and criminality would be accepted as defeated only when the people now in IDP camps return to their homes and homesteads and live in relative security provided by a responsible and responsive government.

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