IOM to help Nigeria reduce COVID-19 risk in IDP camps

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The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Friday it is extending its water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) operations to decrease the risk of COVID-19 spreading in densely populated camps for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the restive northeast Nigeria.

In a statement sent to Xinhua in Lagos, Teshager Tefera, IOM Nigeria WASH program manager, said the virus continues to disrupt the health, public life, and livelihoods in Africa’s most populous country.

The new IOM project will help prevent and control COVID-19 infections in three areas in Borno state with high concentrations of displaced persons and areas also deemed high-risk for disease spread, Terefa said.

“Without the availability of sanitation facilities and hygiene materials, IDPs are extremely vulnerable to disease transmission,” the official said.

According to Tefera, services will reach an estimated 420,000 IDPs in 120 camps and nearby communities in Maiduguri, Konduga, and Damasak in Borno state.

The project will supply clean and safe water, as well as 22,000 hygiene kits with soap, buckets, and other items, to populations at risk, he added.

Borno, the state which has witnessed continuous attacks by non-state armed groups for the past decade, is home to about 80 percent of the estimated 840,000 internally displaced persons, said Tefera.

He said the displaced persons “live in makeshift and temporary shelters in overcrowded conditions where physical distancing is difficult, if not impossible,” adding the impact of an outbreak among the displaced populations in this area could be devastating.

According to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, the country recorded 595 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the total infections to 34,854 cases, of which 593 cases are in Borno.

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