YOLA, Nigeria (AP) — More than 1.5 million Nigerians displaced by the militant group Boko Haram are flocking to relief centers across the country's northeast, where they are met with overcrowded facilities and a shortage of supplies.
Boko Haram's five-year insurgency continues to leave a trail of despair and desperation. Nearly 10,000 people now stay in the Damare camp in Adamawa where there are not enough toilets and a persistent health threat looms.
"Whenever people gather in a place like this, there are bound to be some social problems like diseases," Sylvanus Papka, a top health official, told The Associated Press on Friday.
Papka said outbreaks of diarrhea and measles are now under control thanks to an onsite health clinic. But the lack of sanitation poses a major challenge. Open defecation and unclean hands are issues that aid workers like Fidelia Joseph deal with regularly.
"It is always a tug of war to tell the women to sweep the environment or to throw refuse and other garbage where they rightly belong to and if you insist that the right thing must be done, people will take offense," Joseph said.
The increasing influx of displaced people worsens an already fragile situation. A glimpse from the entrance of Damare camp reveals gloomy faces, maimed fathers and tired mothers.
Towns that have been hit repeatedly by the Islamic insurgents, like Michika, and Chibok, where Boko Haram abducted more than 200 schoolgirls in April and struck again in November, can hardly provide secure shelter for residents. And more people may be coming.
"There are more than 10,000 displaced people from Mubi who are currently trapped in Cameroon republic and we are expecting them at any time in the camp," Papka said.