While the world was celebrating Christmas on 25 December 2023, the people of Bokkos, Barkin Ladi and Mangu Local Government Areas (LGA) of Plateau State, North-central Nigeria, suffered a gruesome attack that left many maimed, displaced and some dead.
“It was midnight when the attack started in my village Mbar (in Bokkos LGA). They came with guns and machetes, burnt our houses and killed many people. I am grateful I escaped with my family. Some families were not lucky”, said 45-year-old Jumai Bulus, now residing at one of the Internal Displaced Persons Camps (IDPs).
Fleeing her home in Jing Mangu LGA, on that fateful night, 35-year-old Regina Besan delivered her baby at a primary school compound where she and her family now take shelter.
Regina said “I am grateful to be alive, although I am not happy I gave birth at the camp. My feeding and taking care of the newborn baby has been a challenge as we rely on the donations and goodwill of people to survive.”
In the case of Tiput Emmanuel, his left leg was amputated as a result of a gunshot he sustained while fleeing from his home in Bungha, Mangu LGA with his family.
Despite his misfortune and disability, Emmanuel who is a professional driver is eager to return to driving or get another job. “I can drive, if I get an automatic car”, he said.
During the attack, more than 160 Villages (44 in Bokkos, 11 in Barkin Ladi and 109 in Mangu LGA respectively) were overrun by unknown attackers, resulting in over 409 houses burnt down, 335 deaths 171 injured with an estimated 18,275 people fleeing from their homes to seek refuge in other parts of the state and neighbouring environs.
Currently, 16 IDP camps are active in the three LGAs.
At the outset, WHO, the UN Specialized Agency for Health, donated two trauma kits to the State government to support the treatment of 100 injured victims and performed 200 procedures. WHO experts were also deployed to provide technical support in assessing the health situations and needs of the displaced population.
The message of WHO Country Representative Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo was conveyed to the government of Plateau state reiterating WHO’s commitment to providing the desired technical support and a strong presence in the state to combat all forms of public health emergencies.
Furthermore, the United Nations Coordination Team (UNTC) led by the WHO is collaborating with the Plateau State Government in spearheading partner coordination for a comprehensive assessment of the humanitarian situation to develop sector-specific response plans and provide aid to the affected population.
As part of the humanitarian response, WHO-led different agencies and partners to conduct a Multi-cluster/sector Initial Rapid Needs Assessment (MIRA) to identify the critical humanitarian needs to aid response to the escalating health and humanitarian crisis.
The WHO in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), has been working around the clock with local and international stakeholders, including Médecins Sans Frontières, (MSF), Nigeria Red Cross (NRC), CLEEN Foundation, and Chigari Foundation among others to support the government in providing emergency assistance to victims and displaced populations on the ground which remains volatile.
The mass displacement has resulted in appalling living conditions as many of the displaced persons are unable to farm and have no goods/produce to sell.
“We are providing temporary shelter for over 400 people in our compound, but the place is not conducive. Many of them require water and sanitation (WASH), medical service, food and good shelter, said Reverend Ezekiel Dachomo, a religious leader in Barkin-Ladi, LGA.
Likewise, those residing at the IDPs require essential relief items, medication, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), food, shelter, health services, mental health and psychosocial support as many have run out of medications.
At the Pilot IDP camp in Mangu, the assessment team found 49 people with disabilities listed and organized by the president and secretary of the National Association for Persons with Disability – Mangu branch, both living in the camp.
In the meantime, emergency health services with additional workforce are being offered at various IDP camps, and mobile clinics set up by UNICEF and partners, emergency drug supplies, medical supplies, and WASH kits donated to support the victims, displaced persons, and affected communities.
In parallel, UNFPA is working with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs to improve the protection of women and girls and IOM by providing shelters.
The Plateau State Governor, Barrister Caleb Mutfwang, appreciated the support from the UN and partners, especially WHO, in spearheading the government/partners’ coordination to provide interventions that will be beneficial to the affected victims.
The Governor emphasized that WHO’s presence in the state supports the repositioning of the health service delivery in the state. He assured his availability for close monitoring of the humanitarian response activities while noting that the state is committed to strengthening the capacity of the health workforce and health facilities from the primary to the tertiary level.
Also, the district head in Mangu, one of the towns hosting some of the displaced persons, Daa Moses Dawop, said “We are grateful for the support given to our families and relatives who fled their homes due to the attack. However, we still require more assistance as many of our people are still homeless with families scattered and unable to afford essential items such as food, clothing, and medicine.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO) – Nigeria.