Intense hunger as a result of inadequacy of food items in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in the outskirts of Bauchi, has forced adolescent children to feed on onion leaves for survival. News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondents who visited the camp, located about two kilometres from Rindebin community in Bauchi Local Government Area, report that the children, between the ages of three and five, looked pitiful as they consume the leaves. Some of their parents interviewed said there were not enough food, as such, they had to ‘improvise’ ways of tackling hunger, saying they believed onion leaves were nutritious and would also protect their children from hunger and diseases. One of the parents, Mrs. Aisha Musa, said that for the past one year, children and adults in the camp had been struggling to survive, with little or no assistance from all quarters. Another parent, Mrs. Ajidda Ahmed, said the hardship being encountered were enormous, adding that most of them had given up any hope of living a normal life. “Both adults and children suffer from hunger; this has resulted in forcing us to eat raw onion leaves from sellers that come in to the camp.
“Rainy season is about to set in and another fear is the outbreak of childhood diseases because for the past one year, our children were not immunised and there are no water, sanitation and hygiene facilities. “We defecate in the bush and the rain water will soon wash our faeces back to the stream, where we source for water to drink,” she lamented.
NAN also observed that children under two years in the camp were showing symptoms and signs of malnutrition. Commenting on the situation, the leader of the IDP camp, Mr. Bulama Gojja, said that they were over 200 in number of the Shuwa-Arab stock from Marte, Marfa and Jere local governments of Borno State, and that they were forced to relocate to the camp last year as a result of the activities of Boko Haram insurgents. Gojja enumerated their challenges to include insufficiency of food items, lack of potable water, health facility and education for their children. He said that in 2018, no fewer than 20 pregnant women delivered in the camp without the required medical attention, expressing fears that the offspring might develop health challenges due to lack of immunization. He lamented that in spite of their efforts at drawing sympathy over their plight, assistance was not forthcoming from any quarters.
The camp leader, therefore, solicited for assistance from both government and non-governmental organizations, particularly in the areas of health, education, potable water and agriculture inputs like fertilizer, seed and herbicides to enable them engage in farming. Efforts to secure comments of appropriate state government agencies and some non-governmental organizations on the matter was not successful as those who were supposed to speak on the issue were said not to be on seat each time NAN visited.