In the wake of a major attack carried out by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram on the northern Nigerian town of Baga, a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) team is assisting survivors who fled to the city of Maiduguri. A large number of people are believed to have been slaughtered in the attack—the deadliest by Boko Haram for five years—while thousands more were displaced from their homes.
Twenty wounded survivors are being treated in Maiduguri hospital by Ministry of Health teams.
Some 5,000 survivors of the attack on Baga are staying in a camp in Maiduguri known as “Teacher Village,” while others have settled on the shores of Lake Chad.
Having assessed the most urgent needs, MSF has donated food, drugs, and medical supplies to the health center in Teacher Village, which was running short on supplies. MSF will also support the health center with personnel, with a focus on the health of pregnant women and children, who are particularly vulnerable.
“We will provide support in the areas of child malnutrition, antenatal consultations, and deliveries for the many pregnant women in the camp, as well as providing basic health care,” says Isabelle Mouniaman-Nara, head of MSF’s programs in Nigeria. “At the same time, we will closely monitor the situation in the camp and the numbers of displaced people, and adapt our activities according to their needs.”
A number of survivors of the attack are believed to still be in the Baga area, hiding in the bush. Authorities have sent a bus to the area to help transport survivors to Maiduguri, which is a couple of hours away by road.
“Because of the volatile situation in Baga, MSF teams are currently unable to reach the area to assess people’s medical and humanitarian needs,” says Mouniaman-Nara. “For now, we will continue to respond to the needs of the displaced people in Maiduguri.”
Maiduguri also remains tense after a suicide bomb attack killed 20 people in the city’s market on January 10.
MSF, which has been working in Nigeria since 2004, has had a permanent base in Maiduguri, the main city in Borno state, since August 2014. In April 2013, an MSF team had spent four weeks working in Baga hospital after violent clashes occurred in the town, delivering medical care and donating drugs and medical equipment before being forced to evacuate the area due to insecurity.