By Chioma Iruke
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has revealed that 17,053 babies were given birth to by Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) across 18 locations in Borno State alone.
According to the UN agency, the figures represented the information of babies who have been registered between 2019 to May 2021.
Mr Frantz Celestin, the IOM Chief of Mission, acknowledged that the agency collaborated with the National Population Commission (NPC) and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to issue birth certificates to the children.
According to him, the identity of the children was very important and also falls within its Displacement Matrix data which it shares with other stakeholders intervening in the North East.
“We do biometric data collection so that we know exactly the number of people who have been displaced so that the service we provide to them can be effective.
“This is important for food distribution, for non-food items distribution, it is also important for medical provision.
“Some of the work that we do on our displacement matrix data is to work with the population commission and UNICEF to provide birth certificates to those under five who were born in the camps.
“On the number of children that were born in the camps, I know last time I checked, those we had taken the biometrics and issued with birth certificates between 2019 and May 2021 were 17,053,” he said.
He said it was important for the IOM that in spite of the conditions that they find themselves, the children were identified.
Celestine however expressed disappointment that many people in Nigeria only identified the IOM with retuning of migrants, pointing out that the work of IOM goes way beyond that.
“In Nigeria, IOM is celebrating its 20th anniversary. But there are a lot of people who don’t know the extent of IOM’s presence in Nigeria, they see IOM as managing migration or just bringing people back from Libya. But there is a lot more to what we do.
“We are the biggest shelter providers in the North East, the biggest camp managers – managing 115 camps.
“Also, we have 19 mobile teams looking after the mental health of those who have been traumatised by Boko Haram.
“We have migration data collection and management, and this is where most people have come across our data and they don’t know that it is Nigerian Data.
“If you hear that 2.1 million people have been displaced in the North East, that is our data.
“The displacement tracking matrix collects these data, provide it to the humanitarian community so that they can do targeted and specific interventions,” he added.