The United Nations has dedicated this day as World Humanitarian Day in honour of humanitarian activities and in order to propagate the idea of support for those who are caught up in humanitarian crisis all over the world. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has said this year’s event is in honour of women who are involved in supporting those trapped in crisis.
The Office said, “World Humanitarian Day 2019 is set to celebrate Women Humanitarians and their undying contribution in making the world a better place. Women Humanitarians hold a sense of unparalleled uniqueness, one that adds to the global momentum of female strength, power and perseverance. It is time to honor the women who have acted as first responders to the darkest hours of crisis. This year’s campaign on Women Humanitarians supports the recognition that women deserve in the strengthening of global humanitarian response as well as in protection efforts under the international law.”
In Nigeria, where over two million persons in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps from the North-East, North-West to North-Central. These persons have been thrown out of the comfort of their homes to uncomfortable and risky camps as a result of the activities of Boko Haram, bandits, communal clashes, natural disasters, and other forms of violence. These displaced persons receive support from local and international humanitarian organization. Without their support the living conditions of those in IDP camps would have been unbearable.
The lamentations of some Nigerians in camps across the country provide an insight into the nature of challenges faced by those in humanitarian services space. In a recent report by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), some of them gave a grim description of their experiences. Some of those who are supported by Medicin Sans Frontier (MSF) were quoted copiously. One of them said, “Since we arrived in this camp eight months ago, we haven’t had any latrines we can use. We all have been defecating in the open, usually running to the nearby bush.”
Another 50-year-old woman narrated her experience thus: “We all have to beg, including my children, and work menial jobs to survive. There is no assistance coming our way. In the past six years, I’ve been forced to move three times. The first two times I was fleeing violent attacks, and then the third time because of difficult living conditions.”
MSF official Ewenn Chenard also spoke about the predicament facing the agency as they attempt to support displaced Nigerians thus, “Being the only secondary healthcare facility for the entire area, we are struggling to absorb an increase in patients and a deterioration in health due to seasonal factors and poor living conditions. In the camps here (in Ngala), an average of over 750 people are arriving every month. Over 60,000 displaced people are now living on less than a square kilometre of land, most of them under poorly made makeshifts shelters that are easily damaged by strong sand winds and heavy rainfall.”
On this day, we celebrate all local and international agencies involved in providing succour to millions of Nigerians in trouble zones. Without them life would have been unbearable for many. In the same vein, we call on Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of love and sacrifice in order to help those who are unfortunately trapped in conflict zones. No amount of money or materials resources would be too little contribution, as the needs of those in camps are numerous. Food items, cloths, drugs, shelter, water and many other essential needs of everyday life are lacking in many of the camps.
Importantly, we call on Nigerians to do whatever they can to prevent conflicts. Usually, conflicts begin like a spark of fire. But it could lead to great devastation. Nigerians should learn to live together, avoiding conflicts and opt for conflict resolution when it arises, instead of stoking the embers of violence that lead to displacements.