Spiralling violence between armed groups in Nigeria’s northwest has driven thousands of people from their homes; Conditions in the resulting displaced people’s camps are dire, with a lack of food, water and shelter; We are urging for an immediate scale up in the humanitarian response in Zamfara state to meet people’s basic needs.
Rising violence in northwest Nigeria’s Zamfara state is causing a humanitarian crisis, warns Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). MSF is calling for an urgent humanitarian response for people in the region, who are desperately short of food, drinking water, shelter, protection and basic services, including healthcare.
“Our teams in Zamfara state have witnessed an alarming rise in preventable illnesses associated with a lack of food, drinking water, shelter and vaccinations,” says MSF’s Dr Godwin Emudanohwo, speaking from the hospital MSF supports in the town of Anka. “Children keep on arriving here in a very bad condition.”
“In the first four months of 2021, our teams in Anka, Zurmi and Shinkafi treated 10,300 children for severe acute malnutrition, measles, malaria, watery diarrhoea and respiratory infections,” says Dr Emudanohwo. “This is 54 per cent higher than in the same period last year.”
What began as occasional clashes between farmers and herders, competing over increasingly scarce land and water resources, has now evolved into generalised random violence by armed groups, who use kidnapping and plundering as a lucrative source of income.
People who make it to MSF health facilities say that the surge in violence has driven them to flee their homes, farms and grazing lands. Some have sought protection in Zamfara’s larger towns, such as Anka, where they are sheltering in camps, both formal and informal.
Living conditions in the camps are dire, with no regular food distributions or proper shelter and with insufficient water and sanitation facilities, according to MSF teams. Other people have stayed in villages, too afraid to travel on insecure roads and delaying their trips to seek healthcare or fulfil other basic needs.
“There’s hardly any food to give to my children,” says Halima, two of whose children are being treated for severe acute malnutrition by MSF in Anka hospital. “We can no longer grow crops because criminals attack our farms.”
“Two of my children got measles and they were growing very thin. The roads are very dangerous, but I had to risk our lives and bring them to hospital,” says Halima. “Last time, when their elder sister got measles, I decided too late to travel by road and bring her to hospital. She had complications and now she is blind.”
In February 2021 there were more than 124,000 displaced people living in in Zamfara state, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) – an increase of more than 12,000 since August 2020. In Anka town alone, our teams have counted more than 14,000 displaced people, with around 1,599 arrivals in the past four months.
“We had to flee our grazing lands and most of our cattle were stolen,” says Nana, who is sheltering in a camp for displaced people on the edge of Anka. “Now there’s very little for us to eat. I make a living by selling cows’ milk to local people.”
The 150 beds in MSF’s paediatric ward in Anka hospital are already full, but staff fear the worst is yet to come.
“We are currently running over our bed capacity in Anka hospital,” says Dr Emudanohwo. “Families tell us they won’t be able to farm for the new season, which means a new cycle of hunger.”
“And the rainy season is yet to start, when malaria and other seasonal diseases increase,” continues Dr Emudanohwo. “People here need food, safe water and vaccinations now.”
“The survivors are afraid to take the roads, so they usually arrive at our clinics too late to prevent sexually transmitted infections, with serious mental trauma and in desperate need of protection”. Dr. Noble Nma, Msf Medical Activity Manager in Shinkafi.
Rise in kidnapping and sexual violence
As the violence spirals, reports of kidnappings, killings, armed robbery and sexual violence have multiplied.
“From January to April, our teams in Zamfara have received over 100 victims of sexual violence,” says Dr Noble Nma, MSF medical activity manager in Shinkafi, where we run a clinic for survivors of sexual violence. “Women and sometimes men are abducted by armed men and subjected to violation for a few weeks before being returned to their community. This is in addition to the violence faced by women within the community itself.”
Fear of travelling along dangerous roads means that rape survivors often seek support late, or not at all. “The survivors are afraid to take the roads, so they usually arrive at our clinics too late to prevent sexually transmitted infections, with serious mental trauma and in desperate need of protection,” says Dr Nma. “They tell us that there are more survivors out there who are afraid to travel here, so we fear that we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg.”
MSF is one of just a few aid organisations working in Zamfara state. This is not the first time we have raised the alarm on the urgent need for increased humanitarian assistance and protection in the region.
“Our teams have witnessed the speed at which the situation in Zamfara state has deteriorated,” says Froukje Pelsma, MSF head of mission in Nigeria. “The lives of people in northwest Nigeria are now dominated by hunger, abuse and preventable diseases.”
“What is happening here is a humanitarian emergency that needs urgent attention and a fast and proper response,” says Pelsma. “The authorities and all relevant stakeholders should assume their responsibilities towards affected communities.”
Nigeria Immigration Service Reopens Portal With New Passport Application and Payment Process
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has announced the reopening of its passport application and payment portal.
The assistant comptroller of immigration, Mr Amos Okpu announced in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday.
In the statement, Mr Muhammad Babandede, the Comptroller-General of the service, said the portal became effective for new applications from 12 midnight on Tuesday.
Babandede further said that the portal would allow eligible applicants to apply and make payments for the various categories of passports of their choice.
Mr Muhammad Babandede explained that with the reopening of the portal, a new passport application and payment regime had begun.
The statement in full:
“The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (CGI), Muhammad Babandede MFR, has announced the reopening of the Passport application and payment portal effective 8th June 2021 by 12 midnight to allow eligible Passport applicants to apply and make payments for the various categories of Passports of their choice.
The Passport portal was closed following the directives of the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on the 17th of May, 2021to afford the Service the opportunity to clear all backlogs of applications that have piled up across Issuing Centres in the past few months.
With the reopening of the portal, a new Passport application and payment regime have commenced. Under the new Passport regime;
Applications and payments for Passport services shall be made through the Service website www.immigration.gov.ng;
- applicants are expected to visit the portal to apply and upload their support documents for vetting and processing;
- a chat room facility to guide applicants through the application and payment process has been provided on the portal;
- upon successful applications, applicants shall make their online booking interview/enrollment appointment on any day, time and location they consider convenient;
- that the new timeline for Passport production and issuance after a successful enrollment at the selected Issuing Centre shall be six weeks for Fresh applications and three weeks for Re-issue (Renewal applications);
- that no applicant who is yet to make an online application and payment shall be allowed into any of the Passport Issuing Centres for Passport processing;
- applicants will be contacted through email and phone number they provided during application when their Passports are ready;
- a helpline with the number 08021819988 has been provided for feedback mechanism on any challenges.
The Comptroller General, Muhammad Babandede MFR wishes to use this medium to call on Nigerians and indeed Passport applicants to avoid patronizing touts as the entire process has been made seamless for effective and efficient service delivery. He warned Passport racketeers to desist from acts capable of undermining the reform efforts to avoid very strict sanctions.
Signed AMOS OKPU MNIPR
ASSISTANT COMPTROLLER OF IMMIGRATION
SERVICE PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER
For: COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF IMMIGRATION 8TH JUNE, 2021″
INEC To Publish The List Of New Polling Units Next Week
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has pledged to publish a comprehensive list of its new polling units across the nation next week.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this on Monday in Abuja.
Yakubu was speaking at the formal handing over of a new state of the art fire truck, deployed to the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja by the Federal Fire Service (FFS).
He said that details of the locations of its registration centers and the procedure for the commencement of online registration for resumption of nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) would be made available in the second week of May.
He expressed appreciation of the commission to the FFS and all security agencies for the demonstration of their support to protecting INEC facilities
He said that the support was coming on the eve of the resumption of the CVR nationwide in the next three weeks.
“We earlier assured Nigerians that we shall conclude work on the expansion of voter access to polling units and make the new polling units available to citizens ahead of the CVR exercise.
“I am glad to report that we have accomplished this task for the first time in 25 years.
“A comprehensive list of the new polling units will be published next week.
“Similarly, details of the locations of the registration centers and the procedure for the commencement of online registration will also be made available after a series of regular consultative meetings with stakeholders next week,” Yakubu said.
He said that as a member of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) FFS had been as concerned as other security agencies about the recent attacks on our offices across the country.
“This is particularly so because out of the 42 attacks on our facilities nationwide, 18 incidents resulted from arson and three more by a combination of arson and vandalisation.”
Yakubu recalled that concerned by those incidents, the commission convened an emergency meeting of ICCES last week of April, where the security agencies renewed their determination to collaborate more with the commission.
According to him, they pledged to assist the commission address the challenge beyond the routine protection of INEC assets and the security of its officials, voters, observers, the media, candidates and their agents during elections.
“On its part, the Federal Fire Service offered to deploy an additional state-of-the-art fire engine to the INEC headquarters to complement the two existing trucks.
“At the same time, it directed its state offices to take additional protective measures around other INEC facilities nationwide.
“Today’s inauguration of the new fire engine is another affirmation of the support to the commission from the FFS whose personnel, already deployed permanently to the commission
“The personnel will continue to operate and maintain the fire engines and other firefighting equipment installed by INEC,” Yakubu said.
Speaking earlier, the Controller-General (CG) of FFS, Alhaji Liman Ibrahim said the deployment of the firefighting truck was premised on recent fire attacks on INEC offices in different parts of the country.
Ibrahim, represented by the Assistant Controller-General of the service, Mr Samson Karebo, said the deployed truck would serve as fire cover for the premises of INEC headquarters and the entire Maitama vicinity of Abuja.
“The FFS is taking this step as a proactive measure to protect our critical infrastructure and help to protect our economy by forming synergy with all stakeholders in protecting our environments.
“Our center is focused on bringing firefighting operations to every part of the country as part of our statutory duties by having a presence in virtually every state in Nigeria
“The FFS will very soon be moving into all senatorial headquarters in the country. That is how we want to operate for now so that we can touch every corner of this country,” Ibrahim said.
He called for the cooperation of all for the service to better serve the nation by not molesting FFS staff in the line of duty.
In his remarks, the National Security Adviser (NSA) retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, who is also Co-Chair of ICCES, described the deployment of the truck as a demonstration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to sustain Nigeria’s democracy and address insecurity.
Monguno said that the gesture also symbolised commitment to a clear affirmation of Buhari toward protecting institutions of government, toward securing their property, toward fighting acts of irresponsibility, vandalisation and outright criminality.
“The President is determined as much as he can within the confines of legality to suppress any kind of criminality and destruction of public property.
“This is something that he is determined to do regardless of whatever the challenges are.
“He will apply all the resources in his disposal in his capacity as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces to ensure the wider Nigerian society is safe, stable and is allowed to carry out its legitimate undertaking, free from any act of insecurity,” he said
Monguno urged all other security agencies not to relent in ensuring that they continued to protect lives and property.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Usman Baba pledged commitment to security agencies to work with INEC and protect INEC’s facilities, citizens’ life and property.
Also at the occasion was the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, represented by Director of Joint Services, Mr Peter Obodo; as well as the representative of Director-General, Directorate of State Services, Tony Adikweruka.
Recovered Assets: Ad-hoch Committee Gives Emefiele, Others 72 Hours Ultimatum
The House of Representatives ad-hoc committee, investigating recovered assets, has given the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, and National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, 72 hours to appear before it.
The committee also issued same ultimatum to the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali, and the Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh.
The summon was issued on Monday, after Mr Emefiele and the others failed to appear before the committee.
The government officials had sent representatives, but the committee chairman, Adejoro Adeogun (APC, Ondo), said they failed to forward letters to that effect.
He said allowing representatives without a proper letter of introduction would be akin to allowing “impersonators.”
“You are indirectly insulting the House of Representatives. You are undermining the House of Representatives,” an angry Mr Adeogun said.
Moving a motion to give the agencies 72hours to appear before the committee, Ibrahim Isiaka (APC, Ogun), said the agencies created by Acts of the parliament “should not be undermining the parliament”.
The motion was unanimously adopted by the committee.
Mr Isiaka suggested that the House should shut down its activities if the agencies fail to appear before them.
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