Benue IDPs lament hunger, diseases amid downpour

Not less than 3,515 inmates at Mbawa Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Guma Council of Benue State are crying of hunger, diseases and lack of accommodation amid heavy downpour.

Our correspondent, who visited the Mbawa camp, disclosed that one of the temporary tents was accommodating a family of about six.

Chairman of the camp, Geoffrey Torgenga, told The Guardian that not less than eight persons died recently as a result of hunger and pestilence, adding that the latest was recorded at the weekend.

According to him, the camp has been hit mostly by diarrhoea, hernia, malaria and typhoid fever.

Torgenga further intimated that the IDPs at the camp were living at the mercy of churches, the civil society and philanthropists, adding that the last time government supplied food to the camp was on the eve of the February presidential election.

He lamented that the IDPs in Mbawa had been abandoned by government, which forced their wives and children to go scavenging for food at the local markets.

To eke out a living, the camp chairman said most of the IDPs go about doing menial jobs in the surrounding villages and selling firewood from the fast depleting forest around the camp.

While searching for food, a three-year-old boy, simply identified as Nani, got missing in March, he said, pointing out that the boy was yet to be found.

Torgenga stated that due to the deplorable conditions in the IDP camp, the inmates seldom sleep at night.

With the advent of torrential rains, matters have become worse, as the shelters are always waterlogged, forcing the inmates to keep wake until the rains subside, The Guardian was told.

Edward Nyamgee, Monica Iorhemba and other inmates told our reporter that their condition calls for urgent attention from government.

Iorhemba said: “I gave birth to a baby girl last Monday in the camp’s clinic and the only thing I got is a nappy.”

When The Guardian contacted the commandant of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) in the camp, Angela Omirigbe, she declined comment on the issue.

Omirigbe explained that she was posted to the camp only last week and was just taking down data of the IDPs, and so not in the position to comment on issues affecting the camp.