The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon, has expressed his sympathy for the thousands of Nigerians affected by a fire outbreak in a camp for internally displaced people in Monguno town, in northern Borno State. The fire, that started in a family cooking area in front of a shelter made of straw, bamboo and plastic sheeting, swept through Stadium Camp, burning down more than 900 temporary shelters and claiming the lives of at least three people, including two children and one elderly woman.
Nearly 8,000 displaced people in the camp – who have been living in extremely overcrowded conditions – are affected, scrambling to find shelter and forced to sleep out in the open. The blaze destroyed most of their belongings, household items, and food, leaving a majority of the camp’s population in dire need of humanitarian assistance.
“The impact of the fire outbreak on the already fragile lives of thousands of vulnerable women, children and men is tragic. The United Nations and our partners extend our condolences to the families of the people who died and our deepest sympathies to the victims of the fire,” said Mr. Kallon. “The humanitarian community stands in solidarity with those affected. It is imperative to immediately identify additional land to build new shelters for the displaced people and decongest the existing camps.”
Many of the internally displaced people in Stadium Camp had fled Baga town, on the shores of Lake Chad, at the end of December 2018, following clashes between the military and non-state armed groups. This massive influx of people, all in need of shelter, food and other humanitarian assistance, has stretched the capacity of camps in Monguno, leading to congestion. This congestion heightens the risk of fire outbreaks with makeshift and temporary shelters built too closely together in the confined spaces.
Humanitarian actors, in support of the Government of Nigeria, are working to identify additional land for the construction of shelters to accommodate the displaced people and mitigate fire hazards. Humanitarian partners are also carrying out awareness campaigns to inform people living in the camps on ways to prevent fire outbreaks.