The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) have provided free medical service to about 3,350 internally Diplaced Persons (IDPs) in Rann in Borno state.
The medical outreach became necessary “to avoid humanitarian catastrophe due to the recent withdrawal of humanitarian services by Non-Governmental Organisations from Rann, following the recent attack by remnants of Boko Haram terrorists, according to NAF spokesperson, Air Vice Marshal Olatokunbo Adesanya, in a statement.
Last month four aid workers were killed in a Boko Haram attack in Rann, prompting the United Nations and the Medicine Sans Frontiers (MSF) to pull out their workers from Rann and suspending their services.
According to the NAF’s spokesperson, the outreach provided free primary healthcare and curative services, medicated glasses, mass deworming as well as general and eye surgeries.
He said: “On the first day of the Medical Outreach, patients with major complications that required surgeries were airlifted by the NAF Agusta 109 LUH Helicopter to the NAF’s 105 Composite Group in Maiduguri.
“So far, 9 IDPs had benefitted from general surgeries while 8 others also benefitted from eye surgeries, all at no cost to the beneficiaries.”
“The medical and surgical interventions were part of NAF’s humanitarian gesture to the IDPs towards ameliorating their health challenges and giving them the opportunity to live normal and productive lives again.
“The programme is expected to go a long way in winning the ‘hearts and minds’ of the locals, who were displaced from their ancestral homes by the Boko Haram terrorists. The NAF’s soft power approach in fighting insurgency, in addition to its military campaign, has so far impacted greatly on the IDPs and has given them a sense of belonging.”
Olatokunbo said the NAF has provided several humanitarian services in the Northeast and other parts of the country for the past three years.
“It has also established emergency hospitals in IDP camps, provided surgical interventions to tackle surgery related cases, and the provision of meals to primary school pupils in Dalori and Bama IDP camps respectively,” he said.