Summarized from reporting by Zakariya Musa
Reports from the Disaster Relief Ministry of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), dated July and August, have outlined the latest disaster relief work by the Nigerian Brethren. The work is centered in places that have suffered recent attacks, violence, and destruction by Boko Haram, as well as in IDP camps for displaced people.
Food and cooking and cleaning supplies were provided to 76 households in EYN’s Debiro congregation in the Kwajaffa church district in Hawul Local Government Area of Borno State, after Boko Haram attacks.
Debiro village has suffered Boko Haram attacks since 2014, with the most recent on May 6. Buildings that were burned in the attack included three churches (an EYN church, an ECWA church, and Deeper Life Bible Church) along with 69 houses with properties, two primary and secondary schools, and a health dispensary. One person named Audu Bata was burnt in his house. The nearby village of Jubhuhwi also was attacked and an EYN church there was burned along with three houses and one public school. Those in the area “presently live in fear of attack and experience kidnapping for ransom almost every week,” the report said.
“Pastors working in the area while speaking to us during the intervention appreciate the EYN leadership and the donors for their concern and assistance,” the report said. One of the beneficiaries expressed gratitude for the relief items received, without discriminating between Christians and Muslims. “We thank you for the unexpected assistance, we wish you safe journey and be protected as you help people,” he said.
The ministry delivered food relief to several IDP camps including the Brethren IDP camp for displaced people at Luvu in the Karu area of Nasarawa State, the Celestial Church IDP Camp in the northeastern city of Maiduguri in Borno State, the Cherubim and Seraphim IDP Camp in Maiduguri, and the Shagari Low Cost IDP Camp in Maiduguri. At the latter, 86 people were offered health consultations and help with medications. “Statistic revealed that malaria and epigastria disorder were common in the camp. Awareness on the COVID-19 pandemic was also given,” said the report. The distributions in the camps included rice or maize, Maggi cubes, cooking oil, salt, detergent and soap, and some places “dignity kits” and in other places bags of fertilizer.
In three areas the EYN Peace Program made one-on-one counseling available to people–both men and women–who “have been traumatized and devastated as a result of the brutal activities of Boko Haram.” Such counseling was offered in Chibok in Borno State, and in Gulak and Madagali in Adamawa State. “Some have never had the opportunity to share their experiences so that they could be helped,” said the report. “For the participants to have someone whom they trust to listen to what they experienced is a way forward that contributes to reduction of their trauma. And when they were asked at the end of the session, how are you feeling sharing your stories? They will say they feel relieved and being helped over their critical situation.”
Challenges facing both the disaster ministry and those it serves include bad roads, inability for humanitarian organizations to reach many devastated communities, increased insecurity including child rape and kidnappings, farmers prevented from going to their farms leading to serious food insecurity in an area that produces large quantities of food for the nation, many communities made more vulnerable by hunger, and inflation, with the cost of a bag of maize having almost doubled. In addition, there has been little governmental help, “no viable effort to recover the ruined communities in the entire northeast, especially in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe States” and “no or little mitigation plan in place to address the disaster ahead.” The church itself has a limited response capacity, the report noted.
Next activities for the disaster ministry include offering psychosocial support to women; educational assistance to orphans; food security at the CAN Center, an ecumenically supported IDP camp in Maiduguri; and water sanitation and hygiene work in three church districts.
— Zakariya Musa is a project officer for the Disaster Relief Ministry of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and communications staff for EYN.
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