From: Samuel Orumade, Abuja
‘WE will not wait for COVID-19 to reach Internally Displaced Camps (IDPs) before we act’, the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA) has said.
The UN body says there is need for proactive measures to safeguard the IDPs considering the Boko Haram crises that have displaced people from their homes in the North Eastern part of the country, particularly Yobe, Adamawa and Borno States.
However, it disclosed that is has scaled up emergency efforts to forestall likely spread of the COVID-19 virus to the IDPS, to prevent humanitarian crisis.
“We will not wait for COVID-19 to reach camps for IDPs before we act,” says Mr Edward Kallon, UN Humanitarian Coordinator, in a statement released by Eve Sabbagh, Head of Public Information, UN-OCHA, Kano.
“They have already suffered enough from the decade-long conflict and our priority is to ensure the continuous delivery of life-saving assistance especially health services to the most vulnerable women, children and the elderly who need special attention.”
Kallon emphasised on reasons there should be constant access to water, soap, shelter, food and other basic necessities.
According to him, the UN, in collaboration with humanitarian partners, was supporting state governments, State Emergency Management Agencies (SEMA) and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in developing emergency response plans in recognition of reality of the living conditions in host communities and IDP camps.
He disclosed that the organisation is implementing required precautionary measures as recommended by the global guidance on COVID-19 Outbreak Preparedness and Response.
“Humanitarian partners are installing hand-washing stations in IDP camps and ensuring supply of clean water. Partners are also distributing soap and teaching women how to produce their own.
“The UN is also planning to bring in vital health equipment and tools to prevent and treat the respiratory virus, which is now affecting over 12 states across Nigeria, with 131 total cases recorded as of March 31.
“UN has developed awareness raising and prevention messages, leaflets, posters, animations and videos specific for IDPs and other vulnerable people in the northeast. In partnership with major TV and radio channels, it has launched sensitization campaigns across various states, reaching millions of Nigerians.
“The UN is also launching a survey tool with the Network of People Living with HIV (NEPWHAN) to gather specific and arising challenges for people living with HIV on continuous access to quality treatment, care and support in the midst of the response to the outbreak of COVID-19,” Kallon stated.