The sight of a large number of women and children in Kuchingoro, one of Abuja’s Internally Displaced Persons’ Camp, IDPs indeed showed they are the worst affected during emergencies, a stark reminder that all is not well with the country.
With the continued insurgency, ethnic/communal crises and natural disasters, the situation of women and children who bear the brunt of all these have become quite unbearable.
At the Kuchingoro camp, Nigerian Pilot observed that the situation was not any better with other challenges that further aggravated their plight. Our reporter who visited the camp gathered that the displaced women and children now depend on the camp’s staff for their daily meals.
Sadly, some of these women spotted in the IDPs camp, were seen to have isolated themselves from the queue formed to collect food due to the trauma they suffer in the process, as a result of experiencing the death of their loved ones in their presence. While some of the women, who also refused to eat, complained that, the food given to them was against their cultural prepositioning and religious belief.
It is worthy to note that there is a whole lot to do in order to restore the people to a right state of mind, considering the courage to leave all that is familiar and step into the unknown in search of peace.
Women and children are the most vulnerable in emergencies such as insurgency, flooding, fire outbreak, communal clashes, ethnical clashes and the likes.
Recently, United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF confirmed that about 70 per cent of the citizenry affected by emergencies and natural disasters were the women and children.
The Monitory and Evaluation Officer, UNICEF, Mr Olusoji Adeniyi disclosed this in Kano State at a two-day media dialogue on emergencies, ethical reporting and human-interest stories.
In the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, UNHCR’s, report presented to Nigerian Pilot Newspapers by the chairman of National Population Commission, Chief Eze Duruiheoma, during an event to commemorate World Population Day, WPD, stated that over 80 per cent of the population in IDP camps are women and the recent rescue operations in the Sambisa forest, yielded mostly women and children.
Statistics by National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, shows that out of 275 residents in Yola camp, 69 are adult females, 49 male children (age 0-5 years), 26 males (age 6-12 years), 48 female children (age 0-5 years), 69 females (age 6-12 years) and 14 females (age 13-18 years).
In addition, the development agency, World Vision, revealed that violence against women and children increases during and in the aftermath of emergencies.
Unfortunately, the effects of emergency on women and children are on the increase thereby affecting children’s education and putting the women into unthinkable trauma.
Speaking to Nigerian Pilot, Habiba Mohammed, a female IDP in the Kuchingori camp, who fled from Bama with her younger brother, said that some women in the camp came with what they were wearing at the point of the attack and need cloths, sanitary pads or kits to help themselves.
According to her, some displaced women are pregnant, while many others having their monthly menstrual cycles have no sanitary pads. In fact, what we see here on a daily basis is like escaping death to live with danger. The hygienic practice here is low as many people here practice open defecation, which is harmful to the health of women and children in terms of skin and the other related diseases.
Ms. Mohammed appealed to good spirited people of Nigeria, the donor agencies, and government of all levels to always consider the plight of the women in the camps by ensuring that items for women are delivered directly to them.
Hannatu Umar, who fled from Gwoza said that the people in the IDP camp are living under unsanitary conditions. Mrs. Umar who spoke in Hausa language said that the toilets there are always dirty because the number available cannot cater for the population living on the camp.
“Most times when you enter the women’s bathroom or toilets, you will hardly make use of it as a result of dirtiness. You see monthly blood of women who are menstruating and sanitary pads littered everywhere.”
She also disclosed that open defecation is highly practiced within and around the camps endangering the health of inhabitants.
Speaking also, Lami Isah, who escaped from Boko Haram attack told our reporter that she only escaped with two of her children, adding that, four months after the attack, she doesn’t know the whereabouts of her husband and three other children who went on errand before the violence.
Mrs. Isah, who could not control her tears, said she hardly sleeps at night because of inconveniences as the place is too congested. She also disclosed that they had to barricade an area, like a hut for women and children to sleep.
She called on the government to come to their aid and help tackle Boko Haram and recover their homes. “I am not comfortable here; some of us want to return to our homes. I want to go and look for my husband and my children but I do not know how to go about it. Even here, some of us women face sexual harassment from other male IDPs. Please government should tackle Boko Haram so that we can go back to our various states.”