have starved to death over the past month in
Bama,Borno, Nigeria, the medical charity MSF said on
Wednesday, June 22.
A "catastrophic humanitarian emergency" is
unfolding at a camp it visited where 24,000
people have taken refuge. Many inhabitants are
traumatised and one in five children is suffering
from acute malnutrition, the agency said.
Displaced people in Bama say new graves are
appearing on a daily basis, according to a
statement from MSF.
It quoted inhabitants as saying about 30 people
died every day due to hunger or illness. Although
the area has been unsafe to travel through, MSF
says one of its teams reached Bama on Tuesday.
It went in with a military convoy from the city of
Maiduguri in Borno state.
"For several hours on 21 June, an MSF medical
team was able to access the town of Bama in
northeastern Nigeria, where 24,000 people,
including 15,000 children (among them 4,500
under five years of age) are sheltered in a camp
located on a hospital compound.
During those few hours, the MSF medical team
discovered a health crisis – referring 16 severely
malnourished children at immediate risk of death
to the MSF in-patient therapeutic feeding centre
in Maiduguri. A rapid nutritional screening of
more than 800 children found that 19 percent
were suffering from severe acute malnutrition –
the deadliest form of malnutrition.
"This is the first time MSF has been able to
access Bama, but we already know the needs
of the people there are beyond critical," said
Ghada Hatim, MSF head of mission in Nigeria.
"We are treating malnourished children in
medical facilities in Maiduguri and see the
trauma on the faces of our patients who have
witnessed and survived many horrors." he
During its assessment, the MSF team counted
1,233 cemetery graves located near the camp
which had been dug in the past year. Of those
graves, 480 were for children.
"Bama is largely closed off," said Hatim.
"We have been told that people there,
including children, have starved to death.
According to the accounts given to MSF by
displaced people in Bama, new graves are
appearing on a daily basis. We were told on
certain days more than 30 people were dying
due to hunger and illness."
Since 23 May, at least 188 people have died in the
camp – almost six people per day – mainly from
diarrhoea and malnutrition. Between 13 and 15
June, Nigerian authorities and a local NGO
organised the evacuation of 1,192 people
requiring medical care from the Bama area to the
city of Maiduguri, capital of Borno State.
This group of mostly women and children, was
placed in the Camp Nursing internally displaced
camp. Of the 466 children screened by MSF
medical teams at Camp Nursing, 66 percent were
emaciated, and 39 percent of these children had a
severe form of malnutrition. Upon assessment, 78
children had to be immediately hospitalised in the
MSF feeding centre which has inpatient capacity
of 86 beds.
Photo credit: MSF