An international medical humanitarian organisation, Médecins Sans Frontières, has said there are no fewer than 1,200 graves in Bama, Borno State, including 480 which was said to contain children.
The humanitarian agency, in a statement, added that there was a daily discovery of graves and that a “catastrophic” humanitarian emergency was unfolding at a camp for internally displaced persons in the north-eastern state.
The MSF Head of Mission in Nigeria, Ghada Hatim, said, “For several hours on June 21, an MSF medical team was able to access the town of Bama in north-eastern Nigeria, where 24,000 people, including 15,000 children (among them, 4,500 under five years of age) are sheltered in a camp located on a hospital compound.
“During those few hours, the MSF medical team discovered a health crisis — referring 16 severely malnourished children at immediate risk of death to the MSF inpatient therapeutic feeding centre in Maiduguri.
“A rapid nutritional screening of more than 800 children found that 19 per cent were suffering from severe acute malnutrition — the deadliest form of malnutrition. This is the first time MSF has been able to access Bama, but we already know the needs of the people there are beyond critical.”
According to the statement, during an assessment, the MSF team counted up to 1,233 graves located near the camp.
“Bama is largely closed off. We have been told that people there, including children, have starved to death. According to the accounts given to MSF by displaced people in Bama, new graves are appearing on a daily basis. We were told that on certain days, more than 30 people were dying due to hunger and illness,” Hatim stated.
The MSF noted that since May, at least 188 people had died in the camp, almost six people per day, mainly from diarrhoea and malnutrition.
The agency said between June 13 and 15, Nigerian authorities and a non-governmental organisation facilitated the evacuation of 1,192 people requiring medical care from the Bama area to Maiduguri.
“This group of mostly women and children was placed in the Camp Nursing internally displaced camp. Of the 466 children screened by MSF medical teams at Camp Nursing, 66 per cent were emaciated and 39 per cent of these children had a severe form of malnutrition.
“Upon assessment, 78 children had to be immediately hospitalised at the MSF feeding centre which has an inpatient capacity of 86 beds,” the statement said.