No fewer than six million residents of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states have been directly affected by Boko Haram attacks, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has said in a recent report obtained bySaturday PUNCH.
The Islamic terrorist group has carried out daily killings, bombings, lootings and destruction of schools, homes, markets and hospitals in over 40 remote villages in the three North-Eastern states.
And attempts by the military to contain the attacks and crush the sect’s violent activities had led to the escalation of violence by the terrorists.
The Assessment Capacities Project, which is dedicated to improving the assessment of needs in complex emergencies and crises, in a recent briefing note, confirmed that six million people had been directly affected by the uprising.
The figure, it said, is half of the entire population of the three North-Eastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.
A specialist in African Affairs, Congressional Research Service, Lauren Ploch Blanchard, in a June, 2014 report said over 5,000 people were said to have been killed in Boko Haram-related violence, making it one of the deadliest terrorist groups in the world.
The situation, according to the Human Rights Watch, is heavily affecting human security and causing civilian vulnerability.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, humanitarian needs are mounting in the North-East and the Boko Haram onslaught has caused displacement, restricted movement, disrupted food supply, hampered food access, as well as seriously hindered basic services and farming.
The OCHA said at least 38 local government areas in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states were hardest hit by the Boko Haram attacks.
According to the agency, 27 LGAs in Borno are badly hit, six in Adamawa and five in Yobe.
It said, “Half of the 12 million people living in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states are directly affected by violence. This includes 27 local government areas in Borno State, six LGAs in Adamawa and five LGAs in Yobe states.”
There is palpable fear that killer diseases such as polio and cholera may rise in the three states as a result of terrorists’ activities, the ACAPs said.
According to ACAPS, only 37 per cent of health facilities are functional in the North Eastern states, adding that dozens of clinics had also been shut down and doctors fled, leaving residents to seek medical attention in Cameroon.
According to the assessment, mortality rates have been increasing and vaccination programmes severely hit. Tens of thousands are missing out on vital services and the unavailability of shelter, food, water, clothing, and health services has worsened.
These developments, ACAPS said, could cause break out of polio; adding that Borno State accounted for 14 of the 53 polio cases recorded in the country in 2013.
However, with routine vaccinations now limited to Maiduguri city following the stoppage of anti-polio campaigns in many parts of the state, especially northern Borno, ACAPS expressed fear that the situation might worsen.
The agency also expressed worry that vaccinators were now scared to work in the affected villages.
The Boko Haram sect killed nine health workers on immunisation duty in two local governments of Kano State last year.
A break in procurement chains for anti-malarial drugs and bed nets is another concern, according to ACAPS.
It said, “Between January and May, 12 states in Nigeria have so far recorded 6,149 cases of cholera and 67 deaths. Bauchi, Adamawa and Kano states were hardest hit. The figures represent a significant increase compared to the same period in 2013, and the 2013 figures themselves represent an eightfold increase compared to the same period in 2012.”
The International Committee of the Red Cross also warned against the breakout of epidemics such as polio and measles, among other killer-diseases.
The Communications Coordinator, ICRC, Alexandra Mosimann, in an interview with Saturday PUNCH, said the humanitarian crisis involving six million residents of the North-Eastern states directly affected by the Boko Haram insurgency could lead to a serious health crisis in the region.
Mosimann said, “Conflicts disrupt disease prevention programmes such as routine vaccination sessions. This means setback in eradication of diseases such as measles, polio, etc. Polio vaccinations are very important in Nigeria, which is one of the three countries in the world where children still succumb to this disease.”
An activist and Founder, Gabasawa Women Initiative, a coalition of women across Northern Nigeria, Kucheli Balami in an interview with one of our correspondents, said, “The situation in the North-East is really disturbing because there are a lot of deaths occurring every day. Many families have been afflicted by sicknesses and diseases with no access to medical care. The situation is already turning many youths and children into social miscreants because these people don’t have homes again and are left with no other option than to roam the streets searching for survival.
“The major concerns in the entire region are issues of homelessness, lack of food, depression, hypertension and general agony. Since the area is no longer secure, people cannot go to their farms anymore for fear of being attacked by Boko Haram members and as you know, we are in the planting season already.
“Most of the women I have been interacting with and whom we conducted medical tests for have outrageous blood pressures because of what they and their families have been put through. I am working with over 2,000 women and 7,500 children across the regions who are direct victims of Boko Haram attacks in the North-East. These people are afraid. You can see shock and despair in their eyes. Some of them are gradually losing their sanity because they don’t know when they will live normal lives again. Their houses have been burnt and all their life savings stolen by the insurgents who continue to attack villages on daily basis.”
The Director, International Centre for Peace, Charity and Human Development, Mr. Clement Iornongu, in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, said it was highly objectionable to subject female children to a horrendous psycho-social treatment in the hands of Boko Haram insurgents.
Iornongu said, “It is a great matter of concern that the insurgents are going on with the escalation of bombings in Nigeria. It is highly objectionable that we subject our daughters to such a horrendous psycho-social treatment. That is why for us, we are saying that the child rights law should come into full operation not just in the North-East but Nigeria as a whole.”
The Borno State acting Commissioner for Information, Dr. Mohammed Bulama, said the Boko Haram insurgency had drawn the North-East back and affected its economy.
He said, “The Boko Haram has greatly affected the North-East and the Federal Government should work decisively to arrest the situation, it should get into the region back to normally with all the vigour it takes.
The Boko Haram sect began its violent campaign against the Nigerian state in 2009, thus killing hundreds of people and destroying property worth several billions of naira.
Early this year, the terrorist group invaded a secondary school at Buni Yadi, Yobe State, and killed many students and precisely on April 14, the violent sect stormed the Government Secondary School at Chibok, Borno State, and abducted over 200 female students in their hostels.