Intense hunger as a result of the 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.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondents who visited the camp, located about two km 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 was not enough food, as such they had to ‘ improvise’ ways of tackling hunger. They said they believed onion leaves were nutritious and would also protect their children from hunger and diseases.
One of the parents, 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, 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 into the camp.
“Rainy season is about to set in and another fear is the outbreak of childhood diseases. Because for the past year, our children were not immunised and there are no water, sanitation and hygiene facilities.
“We defecate in the bush and the rainwater 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, Bulama Gojja, said that they were over 200 people of the Shuwa-Arab stock from Marte, Marfa and Jere local governments of Borno State. He said they were forced to relocate to the camp last year as a result of the activities of ‘Boko-Haram’ insurgents.
Mr 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 off-springs 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 leader, therefore, solicited for assistance from both government and non-governmental organisations, particularly in the areas of health, education, potable water and agriculture inputs like fertiliser, seed and herbicides to enable them to engage in farming.
Efforts by NAN to secure comments of appropriate state government agencies and some non-governmental organisations 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.