UN, NEMA SYMPATHISE WITH 8,000 IDPS FIRE VICTIMS IN BORNO

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The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon and Director General of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mustapha Maihaja has expressed sympathy for 8,000 fire victims at displaced persons’ camp Maiduguri, Borno state. Kallon and Maihaja in separate statements released Saturday in Maiduguri; said that the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Monguno and Baga towns had been living in extremely overcrowded camp conditions. According to Kallon, “The fire, which started in a family cooking area in front of a shelter made of straw, bamboo and plastic sheeting, swept through Stadium Camp. “It burnt down over 900 temporary shelters and claimed the lives of at least five people, including two children and one elderly woman.” He said the affected fire victims, were scrambling to find shelter forcing them to sleep out in the open. He further disclosed that the inferno destroyed most of their belongings, household items, and food, leaving a majority of the camp’s population in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Media Head and Public Relations of NEMA, Sani Datti also said: “The weekend inferno affected 7,839 IDPs with the loss of three lives in camp. “The fire outbreak occurred by noon from one of the makeshift shelter, where a woman was cooking. “It spread across the Stadium camp, destroying 402 re-enforced shelter and 933 makeshift homes. He said the agency is already working with other stakeholders to provide immediate relief assistance to the fire victims. Kallon lamented that: “The impact of the fire outbreak; was on the already fragile lives of thousands of vulnerable women, children and men is tragic. “The United Nations and our partners extend our condolences to the families of the people who died and our deepest sympathies to the victims of the fire,” adding that the humanitarian community stands in solidarity with those affected in the inferno. He suggested that; “It is imperative to immediately identify additional land to build new shelters for the displaced people and decongest the existing camps in Maiduguri metropolis.” He said that most of IDPs in the Stadium camp had fled from Baga town last December, following clashes between the military and non-state armed groups. According to him, the massive influx of people, are in need of shelter, food and other humanitarian assistance, as the capacity of Monguno town camps had been overstretched. “This congestion heightens the risk of fire outbreaks with makeshift and temporary shelters built too closely together in the confined spaces,” he warned. He said humanitarian actors, in support of Government of Nigeria, are working to identify additional land for the construction of shelters to accommodate the displaced people and mitigate fire hazards. He said that humanitarian partners are also carrying out awareness campaigns to inform people living in camps on ways to prevent fire outbreaks.

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