ALERT: 990 children ‘risk dying from malnutrition’ in Borno IDP camp

At least 990 children between the ages of one and five years are suffering from severe cases of malnutrition at an internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp in Muna, Borno state.

Being an unofficial IDP camp, Muna offers little comfort to the refugees who are mainly from Mafa, Dikwa and Gamboru Ngala.

The IDPs there lack access to food supply and other provisions from the non-governmental 0rganisation (NGO) and United Nations’ agencies in the region.

A United Nations Children Emergency Funds (UNICEF) official who spoke off the record told TheCable that nearly 1000 children in the camp are “severely” malnourished, and risk losing their lives.

She said the children had been enrolled into the Community for the Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) programme of UNICEF.

“In May, we recorded about 170 new severe cases of malnutrition and the number keeps increasing day-by-day,” she said.

“Some that we administered had mild symptoms, some children have moderate while very few among them were not malnourished.”

She attributed the large number of malnutrition to lack of access to highly nutritious foods in the camp, poor feeding practices, such as inadequate breastfeeding by their mothers as well as offering of the wrong foods.

“Most of the cases you are seeing are new arrivals as you are aware that some IDPs were newly rescued from Mafa where they were held hostage by Boko Haram terrorists. Last months, we recorded about 97 new cases,” she said.

“Most times we give them The Ready to Use Theraphautic Food (RUTF), and 250 miligram Amoxiciline. And when relapsed, we normally give them Albandazole and Vitamin C.”

Zainab Ba’ana, an IDP from Mafa, whose son, Abubakar, was suffering from malnutrition, said she eats only once in a day at Muna camp, thereby lacking necessary breast milk to feed her child.

Recounting her bitter experience to TheCable, Ba’ana said she and her husband were held hostage in Mafa by Boko Haram for about two years.

“After we escaped, we walked from Mafa to Maiduguri for about one week. Seven people mostly children died on our way as a result of rehydration, extreme hunger, and lack of water and food while on our trip to Maiduguri,” Ba’ana said.

“We couldn’t wait to bury them because of the fear of being killed by Boko Haram terrorist. Being in Muna camp was more like a heaven compared to living in Mafa with Boko Haram terrorists.

“They starve us and steal our food item, and beat us when they catch us hiding food. We ate sorghum for about two year while in Mafa.”

Borno state is the epicenter of Boko Haram and one of the poorest states in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, with about three million internally displaced victims of violence.

Earlier in the year, the government revealed that more than 250,000 children were suffering from acute severe cases of malnutrition, while undernutrition had caused the deaths of more than 3,000 children in Borno alone.