Cholera, measles kill 70 in Taraba refugee camp

About 70 people, mostly women and children, have lost their
lives in an outbreak of cholera and measles in Bali Local
Government Area of Taraba State.
The victims were refugees of Tiv extraction, who escaped
from the violence in Wukari and other flash-points in the
state.
Many of the victims, among who were pregnant women, also
died of malnutrition due to the dehumanising conditions in
the camp.
Spokesman for the refugees, Mr. Emmanuel Kegh, told
newsmen at a press briefing at the camp on Wednesday that
the people lacked basic amenities, such as potable water
and toilets.
He said, “Since the outbreak of the communal violence in
Taraba State that necessitated the creation of this camp, we
have lost more than 70 people from the two child-killer
diseases of cholera and measles and from malnutrition and
unhealthy condition. We lack food in this camp and many of
us have died of hunger.”
The spokesman accused the Taraba State government of
playing a lip service to the plight of the refuges, despite all
the assurances by the Chairman of the Taraba State Peace
Initiative, Bishop Charles Yonana, that every arrangement
for peace would be made and the displaced people could go
back to their various places.
He added, “Life here in the camp can simply be described as
hell on earth. We are not used to staying like this and
depending on people’s goodwill for a living. We are farmers
and we are use to feeding very well. It is not a funny
experience seeing your children dying of hunger.
“When we first came in here around March, SEMA came and
gave us relief materials, and later NEMA and people from
the Defence Headquarters. Since then, no one has come
here again. Even at that, the relief materials that reached us
were very inadequate. The bulk of the materials were given
to the Fulani. The authorities insisted that Fulani too were
displaced and should be given the materials and the bulk of
it was given to them.
“But go round and see. There is no where Fulani are
displaced. They don’t have a refugee camp like us. They have
even taken over our villages as their grazing zone and
farmlands,” he added.
The spokesman, who lamented the physical, moral and
psychological damage the crisis had caused them, called on
the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency,
intervene in the crisis by providing adequate security for
them to return to their farms and continue with their normal
lives.
The Chairman, Bali Local Government Council, Mr. Andy
Yerima, who also spoke on the occasion, decried the
intervention of the government in the plight of the refuges.
He however said that the local government had been doing
all within its powers to assist the refuges.
Also speaking, Mrs. Comfort Ivase, said the temporal
arrangement had become permanent thus making life so
unbearable. She also lamented the psychological trauma the
affected people were going through as rejected people by
their society.
The President, Christian Reform Church -Nigerian, Dr. Kaleb
Ahima, in an interview accused the Taraba State government
of playing lips service when people were dying in their
hundreds.
He also questioned the integrity of the acting governor,
Garba Umar, for accepting to collect peace award when
people were still being killed in his state.

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