Fire Kills 14, Displaced 15,000 In IDP Camps, UN Calls For Decongestion

By Austin Ajayi, Yola

Fire gutted IDP camps in Borno state and burnt down over 300 IDPs Shelter rendering over 15000 IDPs shelterless

The United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon who disclosed this in a press statement made available to Newsmen expressed sadness over the death of 14 people, including an aged man who was burnt while asleep, as a result of fire outbreaks.

He said ” over 300 shelters of some of the internally displaced persons have been raised down, leaving the displaced persons in a critical situation that requires immediate action”.

He expressed concern over the incessant fire in IDP camps noting that about 15 fire outbreaks have been recorded in IDPs camp since the beginning of the year.

Stressing that there is need for the Borno state government, federal government, the UN and NGOs to work together to decongest camps in order to curb incidents of fire disasters.

“The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, expressed deep sorrow over multiple fire outbreaks that devastated the Monguno Waterboard camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs), in northern Borno State, on 14, 15 and 18 April and the International Secondary School camp on 16 April in the town of Gamboru, Ngala LGA, Borno State, near the border to Cameroon.

“These are the worst fire incidents recorded in camps for internally displaced in the north-east so far this year were fourteen people lost their lives in the fire incident in Ngala on 16 April, fifteen others were injured, while seven are still treated in a clinic run by aid organisations.

“More than 8,000 people already displaced by the ongoing crisis once again lost their belongings and shelters.

“Aid workers are now working around the clock to mobilise support such as food, shelter and essential items like mattresses, pots, soap and clothes.”

“On 18 April, another fire broke out in the Waterboard camp in Monguno LGA, which is the third such incident recorded in the camp in a week.

“Initial assessments indicate 100 shelters were entirely burnt down.”

Kallon lamented that, “These tragedies come unfortunately among a series of recurring incidents during the dry season, despite regular awareness-raising efforts made by the humanitarian community in IDP camps.

“The risk of fire outbreaks, as well as the spread of disease, in camps for internally displaced persons in Borno State is extremely high due to overcrowding with makeshift and temporary shelters built too closely together.

“I am concerned that we will keep witnessing these recurrent tragedies unless we take urgent measures to jointly address the root cause of the problem,” stressed Kallon.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic slowly spreading across the country, i am extremely worried about the 1.8 million IDPs in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states and the rest of the nearly eight million vulnerable people in these conflict-affected states”.

“Camp decongestion has been a challenge, but it is now a priority.

“I call on all stakeholders to urgently contribute to efforts being made to decongest camps in respect of people’s rights and dignity.”

The UN Humanitarian coordinator Together with the state and federal authorities, UN and INGOs are working on an expansion of the IDP camps to mitigate the risk of fire incidents and the rapid spread of diseases like the COVID-19 virus.

“I have to commend the engagement of Borno State authorities and the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs on this issue.

“It is our duty to do our utmost to protect the most vulnerable from another tragedy, whether it is a fire or the COVID-19 virus,” declared the Humanitarian Coordinator.

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