More than one million people - most of them children - died from Kwashiokor, the disease caused by protein deficiency, during the Nigerian civil war.
More than one million people - most of them children - died from Kwashiokor, the disease caused by protein deficiency, during the Nigerian civil war. The centre of the suffering was at Okporo in former Biafra where some Red Cross workers say that the death figure may have even been as high as two million, when coupled with the victims of starvation. So many children died that they were buried in the cardboard boxes relief supplies came in. Five doctors and eleven nurses run the children's hospital at Okporo. Two days before the end of the war, the hospitals was suddenly doubled in size to accommodate more than 12-hundred patients.
Okporo's biggest problem is to get the healthy children to leave. Many are orphans and others are not collected by their families because the parents can't afford to support them.
Occasionally a group of mothers arrive at the hospital, having walked up to 20 miles (30 kms) to come and look for their children. A few find them, others just walk sadly back.
The older children have been given projects....some built extensions to the school, others make baskets and sleeping mats out of bamboo. The arrival of a visitor in the hospital is all the children need to begin dancing.
In the two wards of the hospital are about 800 children. They have all been given a number to identify them. Very few children know their name. Almost all the sick are suffering from Kwashiokor or starvation.
The doctors running the hospital say the food problem is now under control, but not stabilised. All the children at Okporo are expected to live, provided relief supplies are kept up.