Medical aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says nearly 200 internally displaced persons (IDPs), including children, who had fled attacks by the Boko Haram terrorist group in northeast Nigeria, have lost their lives at a camp in the past month, citing the lack of food and dehydration.
The MSF made the announcement in a statement on Wednesday, saying, “a catastrophic humanitarian emergency” is unfolding at a makeshift camp for refugees in the northeastern Nigerian city of Bama, where 24,000 people have taken refuge.
The refugees “speak of children dying of hunger and digging new graves every day,” the statement said, adding that, one in five of the 15,000 children are suffering from acute malnutrition.
The MSF referred 16 emaciated children at risk of dying to their special feeding center in the northern city of Maiduguri, according to the statement.
Reports said ongoing clashes between Boko Haram terrorists and Nigerian troops in the country’s northeast have made travel unsafe and farmers have not planted crops for 18 months, resulting in the aggravation of the food and health crisis in the region.
“We see the trauma on the faces of our patients who have witnessed and survived many horrors,” said Ghada Hatim, the head of the MSF mission in the West African country.
According to the United Nations, the refugees in Bama are among the 1.8 million Nigerians forced from their homes and living inside the country, with another 155,000 in neighboring countries.
The Takfiri Boko Haram militant group has intensified its campaign of terror since President Muhammadu Buhari came to power in Nigeria in May 2015.
An estimated 20,000 people have been killed and more than 2.6 million others made homeless since the beginning of the Boko Haram militancy in 2009.
The terror group has pledged allegiance to the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group, which is mainly operating in Syria and Iraq.
Boko Haram has spread its attacks from northeastern Nigeria, its traditional stronghold, to the neighboring countries of Chad, Niger and Cameroon. Regional countries have created a joint military force in helping Nigeria fight the terrorist group.
EU agrees on new border force
In a separate development, the European Union (EU) has reached an agreement on a proposal to deploy new border and coastguard forces in an attempt to curb the influx of refugees and asylum seekers along its external borders in Greece and Italy.
“The agreement on the creation of a European Border and Coast Guard shows that Europe is able to act swiftly and resolutely to deal with common challenges,” said Jean-Claude Juncker, the head of the European Commission (EC).
Under the deal, members of the 28-nation bloc will manage their borders on a daily basis but can call for emergency support from a pool of at least 1,500 border guards.
The European Parliament is expected to vote on the issue in a key committee next week.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees are still fleeing conflict-ridden zones in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria.
In an attempt to stop the influx, the EU has struck a deal with Turkey to have the irregular refugees arriving on European borders returned to Turkish soil in return for a number of concessions.
A sub-deal with Turkey on one of the concessions, namely visa-free travel to Europe for Turkish citizens, has hit a snag, and is likely to undermine the overall deal on refugees.
Europe is now concerned that the continent would face another refugee influx as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that his country would allow the refugees to enter Europe if the EU failed to meet its commitments under refugee deal.