We Celebrated Eid-el-Fitr Festival In Hunger-IDPs Lament

As Muslims in Nigeria joined their counterparts across the world to mark the Eid-el-Fitr festival, some Internally Displaced Persons(IDPs) at Fariya camp in Maiduguri, Borno State have revealed how they marked the fasting period and subsequent festival in hunger.

Bemoaning the poor condition of the camp housing them on Friday, leader of the camp, Malam Jiddah Ambari said, the IDPs in the camp celebrated Sallah with little joy.

Meanwhile, a spokesman of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has said that the camp in question is illegal and would never attract government attention.

According to Ambari, over 5,000 displaced persons celebrated the festival in the camp without food or good clothes.

Poor feeding, sanitary condition, lack of proper medical attention and poor security are major challenges in the camp.

“We are left to eke out a living on our own. Many people fast in excruciating hardship without nothing to eat. The last time food was supplied in this camp was nine months ago by Save The Children, a Non Governmental Organisation.

“They supported us with cash and some food items on monthly basis but the program had wound up. Most of us now survive through hustling. Those with no means had to engage in street begging to make a living.

“We are from Marte Local Government Area. Since we came to this camp in the last three years, nobody from either National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), or State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), ever came to our aid,” he said.

Ambari however called on the government and the humanitarian organisations to come to their aid.

“They must stop calling us unofficial IDPs, because we are also citizens of Nigeria displaced by Boko Haram insurgency,” he said.

Mustapha Abdallah, another IDP narrated the same complaints, adding many children and women who took ill were not given medical attention.

“The Non Government Organisation (NGOs), at some point shared Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF),  for the malnourished children in the camp but the mothers  ended up eating the supplement because they  were hungry.

“We are permanently challenged by many problems. As you can see, we have more than 2,000 children but none of them is going to school.

“Most parents in the camp cannot afford to send their children to school because of the conditions they found themselves.

“We beg you in the name of Allah to plead with the government to come to our rescue. Tell them the true picture of our plight.

Ummulkhultum Muhammad, a mother of two, also  told the News Agency of Nigeria that she lost her two-year-old daughter, as a result of the poor living condition in the camp, four months ago.

Muhammed urged the government to adopt proactive measures to address  the challenges being  faced by persons displaced by Boko Haram adding that such persons deserved to be supported.

Ibrahim Kachalla, another IDP, appealed to government to support the IDPs with farm inputs to enable them engage in farming and become self-reliant.

Kachalla lamented that life was becoming difficult everyday urging well-meaning Nigerians to come to their aid.

Reacting, Malam Bashir Garga, Zonal Coordinator, National Emergency Management Agency, denied the claims, saying the  camp was illegally set up.

Garga said that the state government had provided designated camps housing people from each of the local government displaced by Boko Haram but some IDPs refused to go there.

He lamented that Boko Haram elements can easily infiltrate into such camps, disguised as IDPs, to cause havoc.

“Such camps are normally left on their  own. They will not attract government attention.

“And even if you ask them to leave the place, they will go and form another camp elsewhere. And this is why I say such a camp is very dangerous.

“But as government, we have adopted measures to empower such persons. After Sallah, most of the IDPs will be relocated to their localities.

“All the IDPs, including the undesignated ones, will be supported with relief and resettlement materials to go back home and become self-reliant,” he said.