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Congested IDPs camps at risk of massive spread of Covid-19, UN agency warns

…Urges stakeholders to assist in decongesting the camps

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has has said that it is worried over the environmental situation of camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) across northern Nigeria.

The UN body said that the congested camps are at risk of a massive spread of the coronavirus if it hits any of its 1.8 million IDPs in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.

In a statement made available to journalists on Sunday, the Humanitarian Coordinator of the agency in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, called on stakeholders to assist in urgently decongesting the camps.

The body expressed concern that most of the displaced persons are in Borno State, the majority of whom are women and children, with around a quarter being children.

The UN agency added that the two camps in Borno State are currently overcrowded with nearly 700,000 vulnerable IDPs living in dire conditions.

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“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,” Kallon stated.

He added that the UN and sone NGOs are working with federal and state authorities on expanding the IDP camps to mitigate the risk of fire incidents and the rapid spread of diseases like COVID-19.

“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,” he said.

Kallon further expressed concern over multiple fire outbreaks that devastated the Monguno Waterboard IDPs camp in Borno State.

He said the fire incidents were the worst recorded in camps in the north-east so far this year.

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