The North East Development Commission (NEDC) on Friday presented relief items to victims of the fire disaster at an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Maiduguri, Borno State capital, on Monday.

About 4000 IDPs were rendered homeless by the fire that destroyed 688 makeshift homes at Customs House, IDP camp.

Sources said the fire outbreak was caused by IDPs cooking in their thatched and corrugated iron sheet homes, due to intense cold weather.

On Thursday, some humanitarian agencies erected large tarpaulin tents to shield the vulnerable inmates from the biting harmattan.

Responding to the situation, the NEDC management visited the camp on Friday to provide urgent palliative like food and beddings to the affected IDPs.

The Managing Director of NEDC, Mohammed Alkali, who led the officials of the commission to the camp, said 2000 (10kg) bags of rice have been moved from their stores to the camp.

“By our core mandate, the NEDC is here as an intervention agency to help the people go back to normal life. Unfortunately, we have incidences like this happening, which prompt us to also provide humanitarian support to the victims.

“This happened about two days ago, and immediately, the president directed the ministry of humanitarian affairs to immediately provide the support that could immediately contain the situation while we still work on what we had set out to do in returning the IDPs to original homes.

“The minister directed that we visit the camp and assess what is on the ground and then provide what is needed to calm the situation.

“The Commission had deployed 2000 bags of rice; 1500 pieces of blankets; a thousand cartons of Macaroni, 1500 pieces of wrappers, 1500 pieces of mats among others.

“We learnt that there are about 688 households that were affected by the fire incident,” said Mr Alkali.

“And today each household is going to get two bags of rice, two pieces of blanket, two pieces of mats, two wrappers for the women, and two packets of macaroni, a five-litre cooking oil, and pieces of clothing for all.”

Mr Alkali said the agency was giving the palliatives as a temporary measure while it was working with the state government to close all IDP camps by the end of May.

The Executive Director of Humanitarian services of the NEDC, Musa Yashi, said though the NEDC now provides immediate humanitarian service, its initial projection was to contend with only physical infrastructural development of the northeast.

“But we discovered that this incidental cases of disaster continue to recur.

“We do not have long term plans of curtailing disasters like this, but as an intervention agency, we will make sure that whenever problems like this happen we will make sure respond accordingly. And this we do in collaboration with other sister agencies like NEMA SEMA and so on. The NEDC has said it is always ready to take care of unforeseen situations like this, even though we don’t pray they recur.”

Some of the IDPs who received the NEDC palliatives thanked the government of Nigeria and Borno for coming to their aid.

Bukar Malam, who has two wives and nine children, said he lost everything in the inferno.

“I and my family are left with nothing after the fire,” he said. “I was hopeless as I wondered what else I could do to help my family.

“I lost everything back in my village in Mafa local government before I came to the camp, and now the fire has taken everything we have again. But today I feel happy and I thank the NEDC people for coming to our aid. With food and beddings, at least my children would not sleep in cold and hungry like what happened in the last three days.

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