Shock and Disbelief as Benue IDP Camp Records 200 Births Monthly


Shock and Disbelief as Benue IDP Camp Records 200 Births Monthly


Benue State, currently the epicenter for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nigeria, hosts about 1.5 million IDPs across 17 camps and various host communities. The state grapples with the immense challenge of supporting these displaced individuals.


The IDPs were forced to flee their homes due to repeated attacks and sieges by armed herdsmen violating the state’s grazing laws. From Guma to Agatu, Gwer West, Kwande, Makurdi, Logo, Apa, Okpokwu, Buruku, Otukpo, and other local government areas, the plight of rural Benue farmers, once known for their agricultural prowess, is evident as they now seek refuge in IDP camps.


Despite government promises to relocate them back to their homes, the IDPs remain in camps, relying on support from the state, charitable individuals, and organizations. These camps face severe shortages of food, medicine, and adequate sleeping spaces, making life difficult for the residents.


Amid these challenges, a significant issue has emerged: the high number of births in some camps. Despite the dire conditions, IDPs continue to grow their families. This development, while typically a cause for celebration, poses serious concerns in the camps, straining already limited healthcare services and resources.


Recent findings revealed that over 200 babies were born in one month at the Ortese IDP camp in Guma LGA. This startling figure was part of a report from the Integrated Supportive Supervision (ISS) by UNICEF/WHO Humanitarian Health Response, implemented by the Benue State Primary Healthcare Board at the Ortese and Ichwa IDP camps.


The high birth rate is attributed to the IDPs seeking solace and happiness with their spouses amidst their distress. An IDP named Anngu, a father of two, explained that despite camp conditions, couples find space to be intimate, which helps alleviate their suffering. He emphasized the importance of family planning, though many camp residents do not use available family planning products.


Grace Wende, the Executive Secretary of the Benue State Primary Health Care Board, noted the high number of births and stressed the need for government intervention. During a camp visit, she observed numerous pregnant women and young children, indicating high fertility rates within the camps. Wende called for intensified efforts to promote family planning, particularly among men, as resistance to these methods is common.


She emphasized that the 200 births per month at Ortese IDP camp highlight a critical issue, which needs addressing across other camps as well. Wende mentioned ongoing discussions with the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and camp coordinators to increase advocacy efforts, focusing on men to support family planning initiatives.


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