Silas Adamou, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) project coordinator, says getting ill in Rann, a community in Borno state, is just like getting a death sentence.
On January 17, 2017, a jet belonging to the Nigerian air force mistakenly dropped a bomb in the town, killing about 126 people.
In a statement released by MSF, Adamou said the already terrible situation in the town is becoming critical because of the arrival of more displaced people.
“The living conditions are terrible. People are living outdoors in makeshift shelters and survive on less than five litres of water each per day,” the statement read.
“That is far below recommended standards. People have no other choice but to collect water from muddy puddles. We treat many patients for diseases like diarrhoea because people get sick from drinking the water.
“The humanitarian situation in Rann is becoming increasingly critical as newly displaced continue to arrive. The most urgent needs now are healthcare, shelter and water.
“There are no functional permanent health facilities in the town and there is no capacity to treat people who need hospital care. Insecurity makes it too dangerous to travel elsewhere for care. Falling sick in Rann is almost a death sentence.
“What is really striking is the daily influx of newly displaced people. Shelters made of straw are scattered everywhere. There is no space left in the town, there are even shelters in the middle of the road. If more people arrive, I don’t know where they will go.
“People have lost their homes – everything. They bring the only valuables they have left – cooking pots and kitchen utensils – they have nothing else.”
Adamou said the needs of the people were greater than relief efforts, revealing that people now run for cover whenever they sight a helicopter.
He said the community is yet to recover from the air mishap.
“Fear reigns over the whole population. Adults and children start running in panic whenever a helicopter flies over,” he said.
“People are afraid of further attacks from the sky and they are also afraid of Boko Haram violence. They say they feel trapped in the middle of fire.
“Mothers tell us how their children wake up at night and cry without reason. Adults tell us they have difficulties sleeping as they worry about their safety and future.
“Insecurity and remoteness make it extremely difficult for humanitarian organisations to provide assistance in Rann on a regular basis. MSF delivers aid only when access is possible.
“The main illnesses are linked to the living conditions and lack of water. Our teams have been working to improve the water supply, but the needs are bigger than the relief effort.
“When the rainy season starts in a few months, Rann will get completely cut off again as the roads become unusable and the town becomes surrounded by swamps. Humanitarian needs are already massive, but the situation is likely to get much worse when the rains start. Rann will become an island and people will be totally trapped.”