Boko Haram attacks caused a serious humanitarian situation in Borno State e other Nigerian regions on the last year. Women and children get involved in diseases, sexual assault, poor nutrition. European Affairs asked Isabelle Mouniaman-Nara, Msf Program Manager in Nigeria, what the social and psychological conditions are in this country.
Where does Msf work in Nigeria? How long have you been there?
“MSF has been in Nigeria since 1996. We are operating in different parts of the country: Jigawa state with an emergency obstetric and fistula care project, in Sokoto on a lead poisoning project and Noma (reconstructive surgery after facial gangrenous infection) and in Rivers state (Port Harcourt) a project on taking care of sexual violence victims. Aside from these regular projects, MSF is also responding regularly to emergencies (measles and cholera outbreaks, natural disasters such as flood). This year, teams have treated more than 150.000 cholera case respectively in Bauchi and Borno states. MSF restarted to work in Borno in April 2013 after the first Baga attack, but, due to security reason, the team withdrew from the region. Now there has been a permanent team since May 2014. Activities are focusing on medical care for around 30.000 IDP’s settled in the 3 main camps of Maiduguri town (around 10 to 15 000 people in each camp)”.
After Boko Haram settlement, what’s social condition in Borno State?
“Since the major attacks of Boko Haram at the beginning of last year, the living conditions of Borno population have been increasingly becoming miserable. People started to fled to Maiduguri leaving their homes and belongings in their villages. Some of them tried from time to time to go back in their fields but today those times have passed because of the insecurity and the presence of the insurgency”.
How many displaced persons are there?
“According to the national assistance agency (Nema), at least 400.000 people have sought refuge in Maiduguri. Maybe more but we should be cautious about these figures. There are about 10 camps in town but the vast majority of the displaced are in host community”.
Traumatic events, poor nutrition, diseases: what are childhood and women conditions?
“In MSF medical clinic team are seeing mainly women and children. Pregnant women and malnourished children are followed with special care. Malaria and respiratory infections remain the main diseases today. Severe conditions are referred to Maiduguri tertiary hospitals. Many of the displaced are settled in public buildings like schools. These temporary shelters are reaching their limits in term of water and sanitation. The risk is still present for a new cholera outbreak given the overcrowding and hygiene conditions”.
Are the imminent elections increasing brutality in the country?
“The elections, the new attacks from Boko Haran and the engagement of international military forces on the border are potentially worrisome for the future. Therefore MSF has prepared a contingency plan for other states. In Rivers State and Southern Nigeria, MSF is setting up a trauma unit in collaboration with the local authorities. In the Borno, Nasarawa and Taraba states plans are to install some advanced medical posts if needed and support, through medical donations, operating theaters of the main hospitals. In all these areas, enhanced patients referral system to hospitals will be set up. In the meantime, MSF trained doctors from Borno State the Ministry of Health, as well as our teams, on mass casualties management”.