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Nigeria: Red Cross aids thousands of displaced people in central regions

26-07-2001 News Release 01/29

Over the past four weeks a series of intercommunal clashes in central and northern Nigeria has left many dead or wounded and forced an estimated 65,000 people to flee their homes in Nasarawa, Benue, Bauchi and Kaduna states. Working with the Nigerian Red Cross Society, since the beginning of July the ICRC has distributed relief supplies such as blankets, buckets, soap and mats to a total of 22,500 displaced people living in improvised camps.

In Nasarawa state, fighting broke out between members of the Tiv and Hausa communities after the killing of a Hausa traditional ruler on 12 June. This prompted large sections of the population to seek refuge in the state capital Lafia, while many more fled to nearby Benue state. The Nasarawa branch of the Nigerian Red Cross responded rapidly, collecting the dead, evacuating the wounded to hospital and helping hospital staff to cope with the influx of casualties. The Nigerian Red Cross was also instrumental in setting up a camp for the displaced in Lafia, where Red Cross workers remain in charge of monitoring the situation and providing displaced families with assistance.

Despite efforts deployed by the government, there is still a serious shortage of food for the displaced people, and the ICRC and the Nigerian Red Cross are currently organizing a food distribution for 2,000 of them in Lafia, due to take place during the last week of July. At the same time food distributions are being set up for some 15,000 displaced people in Bauchi, where fighting erupted between members of the Sayawa and Hausa/Fulani communities in the last week of June.

In Kaduna, food will be distributed to the 1,000 displaced people curren tly taking refuge in various locations in Lere local government area after the communal clashes that erupted on the last day of June between members of the Christian and Muslim communities.

In addition to food and other relief supplies, the Nigerian Red Cross is providing basic health care for the displaced.