Benue IDPs: Malnutrition ravages over 400,000 children – report says

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By Chijioke Kingsley

No fewer than 400,000 children currently taking refuge in the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camps in various locations in Benue State have come down with malnutrition.

Our correspondent gathered majority of the children in the camps could hardly have enough to eat even as they defecate in the open.

In the camps visited, the health personnel in charge of the camps, an Assistant Chief Nursing Officer and a Nurse/Midwife, disclosed over 400, 000 children had come down with malnutrition.

“All the children in our camps have become malnourished, the crisis has started taking its directly on the affected children. It is a challenge we are facing presently and it is obviously not good for growing children.

“The reason for this development cannot be farfetched, they are not eating well. And the truth is the Benue state government has been overwhelmed, the government is carrying a burden that two states put together cannot carry.

“There is an urgent need for federal government and international intervention to help cater for these IDPs, because the state government is already overwhelmed.”

According to health personnel at on of the camp, a Nursing Officer 1, said: “ of the health challenges we have in this camp is among the children.

“At the moment children in this camp are malnourished which is not a good development at all.

“Though the state government and public-spirited individuals and organisations have been coming to make donations of food and non-food items to the victims, how far can such gestures go?

“The resources of the state government are already overstretched because the state government provides the bulk of the needs of this people.

“But for how long will this continue? Just take a look at the multitude in this camp alone. The federal government must do all within its powers to have these people return to ancestral homes quickly before the gets out of hand”.

Also sex abuse has taken center stage in the camp, as most ladies become vulnerable due to hunger and starvation.

“Many of us [women and girls] came to the camp without children, but if you look around, plenty got pregnant and are now mothers without partners,” said a 19-year resident of the IDP camp in Markurdi.