News / Africa

Stench of Death in Nigeria Hospital Hurts Livelihood

Traders who speak to Blueprint use scented handkerchief to cover their noses, Maiduguri, Nigeria, June 4, 2012. VOA / Kareem Ogori
Traders who speak to Blueprint use scented handkerchief to cover their noses, Maiduguri, Nigeria, June 4, 2012. VOA / Kareem Ogori
Heather MurdockAbdulkareem Haruna
ABUJA, Nigeria -  Residents of Maiduguri, Nigeria - the home city of the militant sect Boko Haram - have endured an onslaught of bomb blasts and gunfire the past three years. Maiduguri hospitals say they are stretched to the limit and locals say the stench from the morgue is making them sick and destroying their businesses.
 
Hassan Ibrahim is a butcher in Maiduguri, with a shop near the city’s main hospital. He says nowadays, when people stop by his shop they often leave in disgust, accusing him of trying to sell foul meat.  
 
Ibrahim says he tries to explain to the people that his meat is not bad.  The smell comes from the nearby mortuary, which is packed with the bodies of militants and security personnel who have been battling on the streets.  

Inside, there are also bodies of innocent victims caught in the crossfire or civilians killed in bomb blasts.
 
Workers in Maiduguri say the morgue is often full, and corpses rot in the hallways.  Sometimes, they cannot be identified or moved without chemicals.   
 
Add to this, the heat in the city, which this week is expected to be between 36 and 42 degrees Celsius, and the lack of electricity, a long-time and nationwide problem, and what is left is a gruesome combination of loss, discomfort, illness and economic despair.
 
Borno State Health Commissioner Salma Anas Kolo says the state is working to address what she calls an “emergency” situation, by adding staff, more powerful electrical connections, and generators to the hospitals.
 
In a speech in Maiduguri, Kolo says the government is also working to expand the mortuaries, a tragic sign of the times. She says that even with the extra power, remains cannot be kept cold if the morgue is filled beyond capacity.
 
Part of the reason for the over-crowding is that the bodies of suspected Boko Haram members are often left unclaimed, as families are terrified that they too could be accused of Boko Haram involvement by the security forces.
 
A seller near the main hospital, Muhammad Rabiu, points to other stall-shops, saying one by one sellers are quitting due to illnesses they blame on the smell.
 
Rabiu says other sellers are leaving because customers avoid their market, and those that do come, do not stay long.  
 
In other parts of the city, away from the stench, observers say residents are not faring much better.  Maiduguri’s economy has been crushed by the violence, and they heavily militarized city has a 7:00 p.m. curfew every night.    
 
The plight of the already poor city began in 2009 when Boko Haram and security forces began to battle, leaving hundreds dead.  That year Boko Haram founder Mohammed Yusuf was killed on the streets.  

Human Rights Watch says 550 people were killed in Boko Haram attacks in 2011, and the Associated Press counts 530 deaths this year.

The militant group calls itself the "People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad" in Arabic but, as the story goes, locals in Maiduguri dubbed them “Boko Haram” which means, “Western education is a sin” because members are forbidden Western books and media.  
 
The group rejects the name, and analysts say it was, originally, just a local joke.

You May Like

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid