MORE than 1200 people fleeing the Islamic militant group Boko Haram in Nigeria have died of starvation in one refugee camp alone, the charity Médicins San Frontières (MSF) says.
The charity managed to access the camp near Bama, in Borno State, for only 24 hours. It is the first time it has been able to visit the camp, since the city of Bama was won back by government forces from Boko Haram 15 months ago.
The MSF website said that the medical team had found a “catastrophic human emergency” unfolding at the camp, which is home to 24,000 people, including 15,000 children. A fifth of the 800 children it was able to screen were suffering from severe acute malnutrition, and the charity was told that hundreds of children had starved to death.
The team found 1233 graves which had been dug during the past year, 480 of which were for children.
MSF’s head of mission in Nigeria, Ghada Hatim, said: “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.
“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 on certain days more than 30 people were dying due to hunger and illness.”
In the past month, at least 188 people have died in the camp, mainly from malnutrition and diarrhoea.
Two million people have been displaced during years of brutal attacks by Boko Haram in the region, covering Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon, and many of them are now living in temporary camps.
Bama was captured by Boko Haram in September 2014 and liberated last year. Fighters who have pledged loyalty to Islamic State still stage attacks in the region, however, and it has been difficult to get aid and medical attention through to the city.