The International Organization for Migration(IOM) said it has commenced rolling out a new decongestion strategy that aims to reduce overcrowding in over 55 percent of the camps in Nigeria’s restive northeast state of Borno.
The overcrowded conditions in camps with makeshift and temporary shelters built near each other, according to the IOM, make physical distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 impossible, in addition to increased risks of fire outbreaks and reduced accessibility.
“Displaced populations in the northeast are facing severe hardship due to increased insecurity, disrupted livelihoods and ongoing risks of transmission of COVID-19,” said Jeffrey Labovitz, IOM Director of Operations and Emergencies, in a statement reaching Xinhua on Saturday.
The number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nigeria’s northeast states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe which were the hardest hit by Boko Haram insurgency rose from 1.8 to 1.9 million in 2020, according to IOM’s displacement tracking matrix.
Labovitz said the majority live in precarious, makeshift shelters that expose inhabitants to harsh weather conditions as well as gender-based violence and other security threats.
Decongestion efforts in overcrowded sites are a temporary yet timely measure to better the living conditions of displaced families, Labovitz added.
“Greater financial support is needed to strengthen the security measures for these hubs and ensure the safety of aid workers. Without these facilities, essential services in conflict-affected areas would come to a halt,” said Labovitz.
Since 2009, the Boko Haram insurgency has killed thousands and displaced millions of others in its attacks in northeast Nigeria and neighbouring countries. Enditem