Nightmare in Nigeria
Floods & a forgotten people
(November 8, 2012)
Super Storm Sandy has captured the
attention of the world, and rightly so. The unparalleled Katrina-like devastation first made landfall
when it lashed against the U.S. east coast, including in its destructive path New York City, the most populous city
in the States, and one of the most important urban centers in the world. This past week saw the Big Apple became the Drenched
But, just across the Atlantic in Nigeria--Africa's most
populous nation--raging floods have displaced well over two million people. Reportedly, 7.7 million were affected by flooding
for several previous months. Reuters reports that "363 people had been killed and 18,282 people injured."
The British news agency continues: "Flooding in the oil rich Niger Delta, where
Africa's third longest river flows into the Atlantic ocean, has disrupted oil production to the tune of around 500,000 barrels
per day (bpd)--more than a fifth of Nigeria's output--according to the Department of Petroleum Resources." Sadly, this
nightmare in Nigeria is grossly underreported, and it seems a fuller disclosure is avoided by design.
However, this investigative journalist has come into possession of an earlier first-hand
report from the field that accurately provides a truly behind-the-scenes perspective, the details of which have not been
revealed in the news. While some figures have since been updated and are suspected to grow, here's a
summary of the initial report:
‘Nigeria has been
enduring the worst flooding in 50 years with at least 150 killed directly as a result of the flooding
and 1,000,000 homeless and displaced. Flooding has affected 21 of the Nigeria's three dozen states. In
the Delta region alone, tens of thousands have been moved into camps that are ill-equipped to receive
‘Schoolhouses are being turned into
makeshift camps. Fifty to 70 people cram into classrooms at night, while many others sleep outside.
As families continue to languish in squalid camps short of food, water, shelter and the most basic of health care, this
natural disaster is rapidly turning into a humanitarian crisis.
of thousands of hectares of crop fields and fisheries are completely flooded and destroyed. President Goodluck Jonathan
of the Ijaw ethnic group has reportedly said no food shortages are imminent. Though this may be the case for now, a deficiency
in food supplies seems inevitable in the coming months. The spread of infectious disease also seems inevitable.
‘Deaths--direct and indirect--from flooding in Nigeria this season may exceed
the total associated with Boko Haram, an Islamic organization described as "terrorist" by Western sources that's
responsible for the deaths of thousands in recent years. The amount of devastation aside, perhaps the worst part is that
there is no infrastructure to repair or assist these poor people, and no one actually cares.'
Sandbagging "Sandy": As is the case with the Nigerian Nightmare,
one group sprang into action to assist victims of Super Storm Sandy. Jehovah's Witnesses have an effective
multilayered disaster-relief apparatus in place.
a network of Regional Building Committees (RBC) spans the globe (for example, South Africa had 25 in
2006), and another grid of Hospital Liaison Committees (HLC) is also strategically positioned around the world. And then
there are Disaster Relief Committees.
Unpaid volunteers, all
Jehovah's Witnesses, populate these committees that assist both Witnesses and non-Witnesses before, during,
and after disasters. Worthy of note, too, is that the helpful services of the RBC and HLC are not restricted to
disaster relief efforts.
The RBCs coordinate the construction
of Kingdom Halls and other buildings associated with worship, and the HLCs receive direction from Hospital
Information Services (HIS), primarily in connection with highly effective advanced surgical techniques
associated with alternatives to blood transfusions.
Sandy stormed ashore, Witness world headquarters in Brooklyn, New York (which sustained minor damage) contacted 21 RBCs
along the eastern seaboard and other areas projected to be affected, as well as 130 circuit overseers
(each responsible for 15-20 congregations of about 100 publishers). Instructions were issued regarding
the 2,330 congregations in Sandy's path.
A reported 1,100
Witnesses evacuated to homes of fellow congregants in advance of the storm. First response RBC teams began work immediately.
Twelve crews are now operating, with more on standby.
the cohesiveness of the 21 RBCs, they recently had a single, simultaneous conference call, along with
Disaster Relief Committees. And the 130 circuit overseers are in communication with headquarters, accounting
for all publishers, including Special Full-Time Servants.
alas! Another storm looms. Peace and blessings to all. Amen!