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COVID-19: UN launches emergency response in N/East, IDPs

The United Nations (UN) has announced plans to begin an emergency response in the North East region of Nigeria to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the region.

A statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday, quoted Mr Edward Kallon, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria as saying that the displaced persons had already suffered enough and should not be left to suffer the effect of the pandemic.

He said the response would focus on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, adding that the UN office said that it wanted to be ready to curb the pandemic in the event that it spreads to any of the states.

“We will not wait for COVID-19 to reach camps for internally displaced persons before we act.

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“They have already suffered enough from the decade-long conflict and our priority is to ensure the continuous delivery of life-saving assistance, especially health services, to the most vulnerable women, children and the elderly who need special attention.

“More than ever, it is crucial for vulnerable people to have access to not only water, soap, shelters, but also food, education and protection,” he said.

Kallon noted that the UN in Nigeria was supporting the governments of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states in developing emergency response plans that take the reality of the living conditions in many communities and IDP camps into account.

The mitigation measures, according to the UN body would also focus more on overcrowded camps and camp-like settings where the risk of disease outbreaks is higher.

Kallon said that the UN and its humanitarian partners, were actively involved in Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) in IDP sites across the three states in support of both the national and state emergency management agencies.

“Humanitarian partners are installing hand-washing stations in IDP camps, ensuring supply of clean water, distributing soap and teaching women how to produce their own.

“The United Nations is also planning to bring in vital health equipment and tools to prevent and treat the respiratory virus, which is now affecting over 12 states across Nigeria.

“The UN has developed awareness-raising and prevention messages, leaflets, posters, animations and videos specific for IDPs and other vulnerable people in the north-east.

“In partnership with major TV and radio channels, it has launched sensitization campaigns across various Nigerian states, reaching millions of Nigerians,” Kallon said.

He disclosed that the UN was also launching a survey tool with the Network of People Living with HIV (NEPWHAN) to gather specific and arising challenges for people living with HIV on continuous access to quality treatment, care and support in the midst of the response to the outbreak of COVID-19. (NAN)

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