MONROVIA – About 78 Liberians , including women and children residing in Nigeria were part of the recent victims of heavy rainfall and strong winds causing flooding that affected 33 of the countries 36 states, displacing more than 1.5 million people and affecting another 2.5 million people and the Organization of Liberian community in Nigeria (OLICON), an umbrella body of Liberians in Nigeria has launched an appeal to assist the victims to recover from the disaster.
Speaking to The Analyst in an exclusive interview, Garrison Thomas, President of OLICON said though there was no casualty recorded from the information they have gathered among the Liberians, their conditions are critical and need urgent assistance.
“We must first of all thank the Almighty God for sparing us the worst occurrence that might have happened. From the reports released by the Nigerian government and other relief organizations, there are a lot of people who perished and there are still discoveries of casualties among the people. We have been able to establish contacts with most of the victims and so far there has not been any bad news.
However, our people are in dire need. They were in the flooding communities for days without getting access to food, safe drinking water, they have not gotten good sleep, they lost most of their properties and are now displaced. Some of them were taken in by good Samaritans in nearby towns that were not affected, some in churches, while most of them are in the internally displaced camps.
“Their urgent needs are food, medications and clothes. We have been soliciting among ourselves as a community, the Embassy also provided some funding and we were also able to get an appreciable amount of money from the Development Initiatives of West Africa(DIWA), a local NGO being managed by our former President Mr. Daoda Kanneh.
“We are thankful to all those who have identified with our people but these are emergency interventions . The number is higher and the challenges are numerous. We want to further appeal to the National government back home, the churches, the mosques, the humanitarian institutions and well spirited individuals and institutions to come to our aid. It is a tough time for our people”, Mr. Thomas said.
Asked which part of Nigeria most of the victims were, he named the places as Bayelsa and Rivers State, two of the worst hit states in Nigeria , with others in Edo, Delta, Ondo and Cross Rivers State. He said what made the situation even worse at the time of incidents was there was no way vehicles could reach the areas besides canoes and boats operated by local residents who themselves were affected.
“You can imagine being surrounded by water all over, no way to get food, you bring from the same water you are plunged into and rain and storms hit you all over. All these came with acute medical challenges and there was no way they could get medical attention. They have to be pulled out from the situation to safety before most of them can eat, drink safe water and get medical attention”, he said.
When asked if there were still other Liberians still being held back by the flood, he said there could still be because not every Liberian in Nigeria was registered with the organization and that for now it is very hard to be exact but the figure he released was the one he was sure of after cross checking from the official register of OLICON and verified by the victims themselves.
“There could be some others that I don’t know of but the figure I have given you represents what we are able to collate from our register and verified by the victims themselves. There are so many Liberians in Nigeria but not all of them are really coming around and the situation we found ourselves in has been one of the reasons we always encourage our people to be part of the organization so that when an emergency comes we can all solve it together.
As at October 28, 2022, over 1,000 fatalities and more than 4,000 injured people were reported across the country according to preliminaries reports released by relief organizations
Flooding, a lack of access to hygiene services, and the contamination of water are likely to further increase the spread of cholera and other waterborne diseases.
Houses and farmlands have been submerged in Lagos, Yobe, Borno, Taraba, Adamawa, Edo, Delta, Kogi, Niger, Plateau, Benue, Ebonyi, Anambra, Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Jigawa, Zamfara, Kebbi, Sokoto, Imo, Abia States, and the Federal Capital Territory.
Flooding has affected roads, bridges, and some communication lines, leaving certain communities entirely inaccessible and cut off from services.