News / Africa

Humanitarian Crisis Looms After Deadly Nigerian Floods

People sit in front of a submerged building in the Patani community in Nigeria's Delta state, which was recently hit by severe floods, October 15, 2012.
People sit in front of a submerged building in the Patani community in Nigeria's Delta state, which was recently hit by severe floods, October 15, 2012.
Heather Murdock
Flooding in Nigeria has killed nearly 150 people and displaced hundreds of thousands of others this year. As families continue to languish in squalid camps short of food, water, shelter and the most basic of health care, this natural disaster is rapidly turning into a humanitarian crisis.
 
About 200 women dance outside what used to be a schoolhouse. It is now a makeshift camp for families displaced by the worst flooding Nigeria has seen in half a century. Fifty to 70 people cram into classrooms at night, while many others sleep outside.
 
Camp officials say distractions like dances or TV help to fend off what sometimes becomes an overwhelming sense of despair and anger among flood victims.

Crowded and squalid camps

In the corridor outside one classroom, a woman named Angela said she lost everything in the floods. Surrounded by a crowd of frustrated displaced families, she said even if the waters recede she has no home to go to and no money to get there.  
 
Other flood victims complain the camps are too crowded and food is unhealthy and scarce. Without enough water, sanitation or medical care, authorities fear outbreaks of disease could make things worse.

Flood victims wait at a relief center in Igbogene community in Bayelsa state, Nigeria, October 12, 2012.Flood victims wait at a relief center in Igbogene community in Bayelsa state, Nigeria, October 12, 2012.
x
Flood victims wait at a relief center in Igbogene community in Bayelsa state, Nigeria, October 12, 2012.
Flood victims wait at a relief center in Igbogene community in Bayelsa state, Nigeria, October 12, 2012.
In the Niger Delta, camp-leader Chaplain Funge-Owei said they are also in desperate need of mosquito nets to prevent a malaria outbreak.
 
"The first time we came into this place, I believe the place was fumigated. But now I can see the mosquitoes are all over everywhere and [they are] biting all the victims," said Funge-Owei.

Displaced families

The Nigerian government recently allocated $112 million to help families that have been displaced in 24 of Nigeria’s 36 states since the flooding began in July.  
 
The Nigerian Red Cross said there’s no telling when families will be able to return, and when they do, they will need help rebuilding their homes, and their lives. In the meantime, emergency officials say with tens of thousands of hectares of farmland destroyed, they fear food shortages in the coming months.
 
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan toured the country this month, visiting victims at camps. He called the crisis a “natural disaster” and assured the people that things will get better.  
 
“The greatest problem we will have is not managing the few days you will stay in the camp, but how to manage you when you go back. How you will start life? How your children will go to school? How if you are sick doctors will see you? Let me assure you that government is working. Private individuals are ready to bring money to help,” said Jonathan.

Worsening situation

But this assurance is little comfort to many victims who feel entirely dependent on the government for survival. Perekoerede Lawyer is a fisherman who fled his home two weeks ago and has no idea when he will be able to go back.  

“We want the government to look into this camp and bring more food, because people are crying for hunger every day and night,” he said.

As the crisis deepens, some analysts say it is not just the Nigerian government that should be concerned. In his blog this week, John Campbell, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria wrote that the United Nations and other organizations have “sounded the alarm” at the approach of similarly large-scale humanitarian crises in the region. But now many remain silent, he said, while others are oddly quiet.
 
The Western media, he added, has almost entirely ignored the problem. He said he wonders if news agencies think their audiences do not want to hear “another dreary story out of Africa.”

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs