Human Interest

Flood: Victims recount plight in IDP camps, lament shortage of food, mattresses

Investigation

Flood victims in Anambra state have decried the poor conditions of holding camps provided for them by government .

According to them, close to two weeks since they moved into the designated camps, the supervising agencies like NEMA,SEMA were yet to bring food , forcing them to feed once a day through individual donations.

Out correspondent who visited some of the Flood victims camps reports that pregnant women and children as well as aged parents were seen sleeping on the bare floor in makeshift camps.

In a bid to save lives , the Anambra state government through its emergency management Agency, designated holding camps and directed flood victims in the affected local government areas to move to the places while they wait for the water to recede.

While some of the victims responded and relocated to the camps, others disregarded the directives and insisted on staying back in the flooded homes.

When Radio Nigeria visited one of the holding camps located in Umuoba Anam , in Anambra East local government area, the condition of the halls housing hundreds of victims were better imagined than seen.

It was a school block converted to holding camp, with broken windows, no mosquito net, no source of water , no electricity or even generator set .

Nursing mothers, pregnant women, Children , youths were all seen lying down on the broken floors with wrapper, nylon bags and sacks while only a handful were using small camp foams.

It was gathered that the over two thousand persons were making use of only two convenient rooms with no bore hole or arrangement for tanker bringing water for them.

Mr Emmanuel Okonkwor who expressed sadness over the condition of the victims who were laying on the floor, said they were yet to receive anything from the government except what some individuals brought which they also need money to buy condiments , kerosene, firewood to make the food which people eat once in a day.

Mrs Tina Okeke from Mmiata , Anambra West local Government area sleeps on the floor with her six children as she recounts their ordeal with hunger and mosquito bites at night.


Two victims from Anambra West ,Mrs Philomena Ekwealor from Mmiata – Aban and Mrs Grace Ikem from Umueze Anam appealed for urgent government assistance especially in the provision of food and medicals to avoid recording death in the camps.

Chief Ezechukwu Asapuo , narrated that they eat three times while at home but regretted that they have been subjected to feeding once in a day after flood destroyed their farmlands and property.

” once in a day they give us food, back in our house we eat as we want. We are hoping that government will bring us food and money. But what can we do,when you are not in your house, whatever they give you, you take. ”

At another camp, CDC Umueri, the story was the same as the women and children clustered in a canopy waiting for beans that was on fire at about three o’clock in the afternoon before they would eat their first and only meal for the day.

A camp Coordinator in Umuoba Anam, Mr Nonso Anizor while confirming the pathetic situation, appealed to the government to urgently come to their rescue before an outbreak occurs in the area.

According to him, the local government chairman brought only thirty foams and some food items which were what the Two thousand Seven hundred and fifty victims had been feeding on once a day.

” we have only three toilets for the 2750 Flood victims here, no water, no generator , no mosquito nets, no public power supply, we put candle light for them at night.

The woman PG Enugu -Otu Aguleri, Mrs Juliana Iwuno said it has not been easy in terms of food, shelter for them especially the victims at the Camp in Ayamelum local Government area.

” Some of them sleep on the floor, they don’t have enough matrasses , no mosquito nets, so many of them are sick, we dont have medical facilities here , so it has been very tough , even the food stuff people are bringing, sharing it have been a very big problem to us. When you have about one thousand people to one bag of rice, its not easy at all”

She said that two women gave birth to twin babies at the Father Joseph camp Aguleri, but regretted that much care has not been giving to them which places them at a high risk.

‘ Federal , State and Private individuals, we need their help, they even need cash, because you can see the women that out to bed here, they need money to buy baby milk, if you give the women rice, the babies will not eat rice , so we really need help from government.”

The President General of Umunankwor Community , in Ogbaru local government area, said government brought only eighteen foams to a camp in Osamala where about two thousand persons were taken refuge,

His Counterpart at Anam , Chief Victor Morba said the governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo promised them that things will start coming very soon but they were yet to see them one week after the visit.

A victim, Mr Sunday from Olumbanasaa in Anambra West while commending the Church for their Assistance so far however said they were not comfortable at the Crowther Memorial Primary School , Onitsha holding camp as the food they feed on was malnourished while the convenience provisions are not enough forcing people to do open defecation.

Mr Offorchebe Elias, the Administration secretary Of one of the camps having a population of 4,416 said the local government Chairman brought only 20 foams which were very insignificant compared with the number of victims in the facility.

A medical doctor, Obi John-Peter is in charge of five holding camps with the help of some nurses, a development he said was not the best if the health needs of the victims must be met.

Our correspondent also got the views of the Member Representing Anambra East constituency, Pharmacist Obinna Emeneka who decried the level of hardship in some of the camps and called for intervention from both the government and individuals.

“I want to call on well meaning Ndi Anambra to as a matter of urgency, attend to the plight of Anambra East, Ayamelum, Ogbaru, Anambra West infact the riverine areas, we need help, we need you to show that empathy, love, we need you to support the state government in the good work they are doing through SEMA to ameliorate the sufferings of the flood victims, it is not something the state government will do alone.”

The Deputy Governor of Anambra state, and Chairman Committee on flood , Doctor Onyeka Ibezim while recounting that this years flood was overwhelming, thanked churches and private individuals for donating items for the flood victims at various camps.

“So what we have in those camps are actually overflow of people, And one of the major takeaways from the camp is that people from even outside come into the camp to eat and probably go away, at this point what do you do. So that is why we have told the council chairmen, and then the Ministry of Health to step up their activities. And real time the Governor has been coming to their intervention. If you look at the medicals, the drugs and other things at a time were overwhelmed we have to even get more. So I can say these are challenges that we tackle real time, if we hear this, we step up our intervention.”

Doctor Ibezim said the camps were having more people than it should as some persons who were not flood victims sometimes get in just to eat food which was difficult for anyone to control.

He however noted that based on the reports, the government was not relenting in its efforts to provide succor to the victims which include planning on how to ensure they start life again after the waters must have receded.

“As I am talking to you I think the flood is stable and we are planning for the receding because even what is important to us now is may just be the post flood rehabilitation, that’s another stage, because everybody there they need to go to their homes, their homes and farms are destroyed. NEMA we have received some items like clothings, soaps and others. but the food items are yet to arrive, so you can see that it is the state that has been on, managing this with good spirited individuals. I give it to Churches, I give it to Ndi Anambra who have also come to the rescue of these people in the camps. For sometime now we have been waiting for food items from NEMA as they said they rice and all that which is stuck at Lokoja because of the movement. However just like the Governor says, we need to step up our games and plan for the future.”

As the Federal government through the Humanitarian Affairs Minister announced that state governments should make efforts in relocating people living in the flood prone areas to a higher ground as more flood were expected in the coming weeks, the people are therefore calling for urgent attention for those who are already affected by the disaster.

Ifeizu

Ifeizu is a seasoned journalist and Managing Editor of TheRazor. He has wide knowledge of Anambra State and has reported the state objectively for over a decade.

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