Analysis: Clues on incessant cases of fire outbreak in Muna IDP camp



Muna Albarnawai IDP Camp has had incessant fire outbreaks in the last three weeks.

Within the period, three incidents were recorded. The camp has had several other cases of fire in the past (between 2015 and now).

In these recent incidents, over 500 IDP tents, made of thatches, were destroyed, with three people losing their lives.

Nobody could tell the cause(s).

IDPs (short for internally displaced persons) living in the camp, who YERWA EXPRESS NEWS had interviewed, could not also put their finger on what exactly is cause. Put it simply: they are clueless.

Of all the outbreaks, no IDP could tell one exact cause, neither could they tell the source where it emanated.

Possible causes However, some of the IDPs have certain suspicions.

One of them suspects that it could be perpetrated by a syndicate who are bent on causing destructions in the camp.

‘I suspects someone is behind it,’ Babagana Abatcha, a victim of the fire incident, said.

Abatcha’s suspicion is hinged only on past experiences, which was of Boko Haram planning and executing suicide missions in the general area.

Between 2015 and 2019, the terrorists turned the general into a theater of killings and destructions through suicide bombings, recording over 60 within four years.

He therefore suspects someone, (possibly still Boko Haram) may have been using the same script to ignite the fire.

Others blame it on ghosts, though without any proof, and obviously so.

Environmental factors Ibrahim Garba attributed it to smoking of cigarettes, without explaining how it can be a cause.

Another source attributed it to young children playing with fire, which made little sense to other IDPs in the camp but can offer some clue.

Borno is located at the fringes of the Sahara, as such many of the communities are hit by the increasing desertification in the region.

Muna, where the camp is located, is visibly affected by these developments.

Scarcely populated, it is also an open and vast sheet of flatland. It is also obviously hit by increasing deforestation, as people in the area and neighboring communities have continued to fell down trees for cooking.

With little or no windbreakers, by way of trees or buildings, wind speed is high.

The IDPs also, in addition, use either charcoal or firewood to cook.

Again, the camp is also not fenced, with the household tents / shelters largely made of thatches, which have high inflammability.

Expert opinion According to Mahmud Muhammad, an environmentalist, who has additional expertise in risk and disaster management, all these are factors in causing fire outbreaks.

‘Most of the IDP camps have environmental problems, more especially that Muna IDP camp. It has very few wind breakers and the people use charcoal or firewood to cook too.

‘I think it is of paramount importance for us to come together and support the government by advocating for more tree planting in our IDP camps and other neighboring environment.

‘We should also as stakeholders, at least once in a while, enlighten the people on the dangers of fire disasters and how to avert them.

‘For now, it will be good if we can minimize the use of firewood and charcoal, not only in IDP camps but also in the community and society.

‘By doing that I believe the rate at which fire disasters occur in remote areas, IDP camps, slump areas, etcetera, will drastically be minimized,’ he explained.

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