from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – THE deadly outbreaks of fire at overcrowded camps hosting displaced people are a rising cause of concern in Nigeria.
Since the beginning of the year, nine people have died in the 79 incidents reported in 46 of these camps located northeast of the country, where Islamist groups are wreaking havoc.
A coalition of humanitarian organisations revealed that 7 091 shelters, comprising emergency or makeshift shelters, were destroyed, leaving 33 750 individuals stranded.
Most of the affected populations have lost their belongings, including registration cards, food ration cards, biometric identification cards, and food and non-food items.
“The fire outbreaks have exacerbated humanitarian needs,” said an official.
Affected individuals, mainly women and children, have been exposed to undignified living conditions and sleeping in open or crowded spaces, exposing them to protection and health risks.
With the steady influx of displaced populations, most camps and camp-site settings across the Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states accommodate an average of 19 m2 or less of external living space rather than the recommended 45 m2 by international standards or 30m2 of living space as recommended by humanitarian groups.
“Thus fire outbreaks remain a significant concern,” the spokesperson said.
Northeastern Nigeria is the epicentre of the violence by terror groups in a campaign to establish an Islamic caliphate.
The insurgency, mostly by Boko Haram, started in 2009 and has since fled to the neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
President Muhammadu Buhari was elected in 2015 on a campaign pledge to end the Islamist insurgency.
His last of two terms ends this month.
He has previously said Boko Haram has been “technically defeated.”
– CAJ News