No less than 1,200 refugees have died of starvation and illness at an aid camp in Bama, Borno State that houses people fleeing from the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, according to the medical charity, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
MSF on Thursday said that its team found 24,000 people, including 15,000 children, sheltering in the camp located on a hospital compound during a visit to Bama last month.
The refugees “speak of children dying of hunger and digging new graves every day,” according to a statement from the MSF.
“A catastrophic humanitarian emergency” is unfolding at a makeshift camp on a hospital compound where 24,000 people have taken refuge,” it said.
MSF head of mission in Nigeria, Aid Ghada Hatim said, “Bama is largely closed off. We have been told that people there, including children, have starved to death.
“According to the accounts given to MSF by displaced people in Bama, new graves are appearing on a daily basis. We were told on certain days more than 30 people were dying due to hunger and illness.”
During its assessment, the MSF team counted 1,233 graves near the camp that had been dug in the past year. It said 480 of the graves belonged to children.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) also confirmed the report.
The Northeast Zonal Coordinator of NEMA, Mohammed Kannar, said that it is working with other aid agencies to ensure that the victims are given a better lift.
The refugees in Bama are among 1.8 million Nigerians forced from their homes and living inside the country, with another 155,000 in neighbouring countries, according to the UN.