The United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA), on Sunday said about 214 of the 687 women and girls so far rescued by the Nigerian Army from the dreaded Sambisa Forest in Borno State are at various stages of pregnancy.
Addressing newsmen in Lagos, UNFPA’s Executive Director, Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin said: “Consequently, since we have discovered that the magnitude of the challenge on ground is huge and there aren’t sufficient human resources to cope with this, we have sought for foreign assistance in human resources to help in the recovery process for these women and young girls.”
Osotimehin is in the country to establish the level of activity that is being coordinated by the UNFPA country office since the army began to free many of the abducted women and with many more others in various camps returning to their traditional homes, so as to facilitate more assistance to federal government.
He said the assistance needed for the freed women and girls would include essentially psycho-social and trauma management among others.
Speaking on his encounter with some of the returnees and freed women, the UNFPA boss who was also a former minister of health said, “I saw so many women and children who have so much stress written all over them, some were lost in their lonely world oblivious of where they are and many showed signs that they obviously had been traumatized by their various experiences.
“There is no doubt that these women and their children had gone through so much since they were abducted or kidnapped and it would definitely take a lot of effort to give them the needed psycho-social support in order to reintegrate them into the real lives they had been used to prior the abduction”, observed Osotimehin.
According to him, “Already, as at yesterday (Saturday), many of them are undergoing screening for various diseases, infections including HIV/AIDS and about 214 of those already screened were discovered to be at various stages of pregnancies, some visibly pregnant and some just tested pregnant; but we are supporting all of them with various levels of care to stabilize them”.
The UNFPA boss also disclosed that the UN agency which has been at the forefront of providing necessary human and material resources, especially family planning commodities for the country, has been training support staff for over a year in preparation for the return of the abducted women and girls in the Northeast.
“In 2014 alone, UNFPA gave assistance to the federal government by providing commodities which aided the delivery of 16, 000 pregnant women in various camps for the internally displaced”, said Osotimehin.
“Some of the children that were freed along the women it was discovered were born in the forest and had never been out in the open until their release by the Nigerian Army”, Osotimehin disclosed.
He added that from Monday, (today) some medical commodities that had been stored in preparation for the return of the women would be deployed from the various stores in the North to Borno State to help put smiles on the faces of the women and girls.
He said some of the kits tagged ‘human dignity kits,’ contain personal effects like sanitary wares, undergarments, changing clothes and dresses, soaps among others which the counselors already deployed would use to part of materials to help stabilise the women whose dignities he said had been abused for too long.
Meanwhile, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), on Sunday said it has established contacts with the military authorities to deliver relief materials to the women that were rescued by the troops from the insurgents in Borno.
The Army had last Tuesday announced the rescue of 293 girls and women from the forest which covers about 60,000sqm, followed by another 160 and 234 on Friday, who were expected to begin the process of profiling to determine their true identity, amidst initial hopes that some could be among the 219 girls abducted from Government Secondary School, Chibok.