Why refugee camps ? In local parlance, these are called IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps. They are not officially sponsored by any government. They are makeshift villages of squatters who have been driven from their homes by ethnic violence. In northern Nigeria, there is competition for land and resources in an ever-expanding population of rural poor farmers and nomadic cattle herders. The farmers are members of indigenous tribes and are mostly Christians. The nomadic cattle herders are members of the Fulani tribe and are mostly Muslims. Violence breaks out when Fulani cows eat crops of indigenous farmers - and when indigenous farmers kill Fulani cows in retribution for ruined crops. The cycle of violence inevitably expands to humans and entire villages.
In 2019 and 2020, this Muslim Fulani herdsmen vs. Christian indigenous farmer violence has reached a crescendo in Kaduna state. And many IDP camps have sprung up over night in areas near our rural clinic in Iburu (about 45 minutes southeast of Kaduna city. This is the story of our mission of bringing medical care and humanitarian help to one of these IDP camps near the village of Ugwan Madaiki.
The residents of this IDP camp have been driven from their homes and farms. Their homes have been burned, many of the women have been raped. Men, women and children have been killed in their hoes while they slept. Those who escaped have nothing but the clothes on their backs and whatever food they could carry. In this case, they settled near an elementary school. When the school children leave school, the refugees move into the classrooms to sleep. The Anglican Diocese of Kaduna has tried < with limited resources. to provide some basic humanitarian assistance to these hopeless people. The local government has turned a blind eye to their plight.
In June of 2019, when Kateri Medical Services was conducting our annual medical outreach mission at Iburu Clinic, we were asked by Kaduna Diocese to do a special outreach at this IDP camp, about 5 miles from the clinic. We conducted a one day outreach during which we served about 300 people with basic medical care. (See accompanying photos) Since then, one of the parish churches in Kaduna has adopted this camp and tried to provide ongoing assistance.
In June of 2020, conditions in Nigeria and especially in these camps has gotten even worse. Because of the COVID -19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns, food shortages have drive many of the urban and rural poor to starvation. Because of the pandemic, Kateri Medical Services was prevented from conducting our annual medical outreach missions in Nigeria. We decided instead to devote the funds we would have spent on the outreach missions to buy PPE’s for our medical staff and patients. At the request of Kaduna Diocese, we also devoted some of these funds to buy food for starving people, to be distributed at the IDP camps.
Also, in the summer and fall of 2020, KMS received two generous grants from the SAMS World Relief Fund. These funds were dedicated to purchasing food and medicine for the residents of these IDP camps. WE are very grateful for our partnership with SAMS as we continue to bring the love of Jesus (through evangelism, medical care and humanitarian food assistance ) to the rural and urban poor in Nigeria.
Kateri Medical Services has worked in partnership with the Diocese of Kaduna since 2002 to help fund and facilitate full-time medical clinics, mobile clinics to remote rural villages and intensive medical outreach missions in rural areas. And in recent years, this work has expanded to serve refugee camps located near our clinics.