The House of Representatives has on Wednesday Mandated the Committees on Internally Displaced Persons, Refugees and Initiatives on North-East Zone (IDP’s) and Healthcare Services to assess and address the problems of high rate of HIV infections at the Internally Displaced Persons Camps. The Committees are to make appropriate recommendations on ways to ameliorate them and report back to the House in four (4) weeks for further legislative action.
The directive came following a motion moved by Hon. Aishatu Jibril Dukku bringing the severity of the matter to the fore. She noted that "recent records from the Borno State Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS (BOSACA) show that 512 new cases of HIV infections were recorded at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’S) camps in the State. Also, official records had earlier shown that no fewer than 5,000 IDPs in 27 camps in the State are currently living with the virus".
She also informed the House that "the rate of sexual abuse and exploitation at the camps by unscrupulous camp officials in the form of sex for “money”, “food” and “freedom of movement” in and out of the camps and rape being perpetrated by members of the host communities and older IDPs are largely responsible for the high rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) and HIV infections and AIDS ravaging the camps."
Hon. Dukku stated that assessment results showed that none of the 27 camps were providing HIV/AIDS awareness campaign, antiretroviral refills and continuous HIV counselling or testing, as a result of which only a portion of those infected with the virus can access treatment while only 32 out of the 90 antiretroviral centres are still operational in the State. Adding that it is also part of the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response (SPHERE) recommendations for the provision of antiretroviral drugs to either internally displaced people or refugees as a minimum standard for health services in crisis situations.