Okwe Obi, Abuja
The number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) at the New Kuchingoro camp in the Federal Capital Territory has increased by 300 live births since the refugees settled at the facility in 2014.
Camp Chairman Philemon Emmanuel disclosed this yesterday when the Otunba Adejare Adegbenro Foundation (OAAF) distributed palliatives to reduce the plight of the refugees, coming at a time when the country is battling the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Emmanuel said that as a result of the births, refugees from Borno, Bauchi and Yobe States now find it difficult to feed themselves and their children but rely on the benevolence of charities.
He lamented that the lockdown has worsened their situation, saying the current concern is not the pandemic but hunger and jobs.
According to him, two days to the lockdown, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) gave them only one bucket of liquid soap and encouraged them to wash their hands regularly.
“We are 1,573 residents and the children birthed here are more than 300 since 2014.
“Two days to the lockdown, NEMA came here with two buckets. One was empty while the other contained liquid soap. They said we should use it to wash our hands to prevent contracting coronavirus. Our people are interested in getting food.
“They do not worry about the virus. Efforts to dissuade them to maintain social distancing is ineffective because they believe that the virus does not exist. Before the lockdown we used to go out in search of menial jobs to eke out a living but since the lockdown things have been hard. We are from Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States,” he said.
Meanwhile, a member of the Board of Trustee of OAAF, Shehu Umar Bida, said the donated palliatives are a way to show charity, adding that the Foundation would go round the country to replicate the same kindness, whilst appealing to the government to deepen sensitisation on the need for IDPs to adhere to preventive measures against contracting the coronavirus as a majority of them are ignorant of its existence.
“We have heard so much about IDP camps in the nation. We are here in New Kuchigoro to identify with them notwithstanding the situation the country is facing at the moment.
“So, they need our support, that is the more reason we are here to do the little we can do. We are not only doing it here but in Nigeria as a whole. From here our next port of call would be Katsina, Kaduna, Niger, Kano and Sokoto States.
“Then we will move down to the South-South States. The government cannot do it alone. So we have to do our best to complement the efforts of the government. As you can see, the founder of the Foundation has felt the pulse of the common man,” he said.