It is no longer news that people are forced to relocate from their homes and environment after destructions by conflicts and natural disasters. According to the recent assessment by the International Organization for Mitigation, IOM, 13.33 percent persons were displaced due to communal clashes, 0.99 percent by natural disasters and 85.68 percent as a result of insurgency attacks by the terrorists.
Since 2009, violent clashes between the federal government troops and the Boko Haram insurgents, and lately, armed bandits, have affected millions of people, mostly women and children in the North Eastern part of the country, covering Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe States. The IOM specifically put the estimate of internally displaced persons, IDPs in Nigeria at 2, 241, 484 (Two million, two hundred and forty one thousand, four hundred and eighty four).
According to the statistics of the National Population Commission, NPC, 80 percent of the displaced persons are women and children who often become the worst victims in IDPs camps.
The insurgency has not only caused the victims to suddenly flee their homes and take up shelter in the camps, but has also resulted to a massive influx of people into neighbouring states, thereby refugee crisis.
The development that has claimed several thousands of lives, made Nigeria to lead the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan among the three countries in Africa with the highest population of IDPs.
Unfortunately, the IDPs are often neglected, stigmatized, and already face difficulties in access to basic services. The COVID-19 outbreak further worsened their situation as they struggle to survive the impact of the conflict and the contagion at the same time. They live in overcrowded camps, informal settlements or hosted in communities mainly in the urban areas.
These must have informed the decision of the Senate to include care for the displaced persons among its three main programmes for the second year anniversary of the 9th National Assembly. The upper legislative chamber donated food items and other materials worth N10million to the IDPs during the visit by a delegation led by the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan to the Wasa IDP camp in southern Abuja last Friday.
Touched by the plights of the IDPs, the
Senate President appealed to Nigerians in leadership positions to always show empathy to them by ensuring that their lives and dignity are protected. According to him, the planned visit was a conscious and collective decision of the upper legislative chamber.
Lawan said: “This is an internally displaced persons camp. None of our sisters and brothers in this camp wanted to be here or wish to be here.
“All of them are forced to be in an IDP camp, and those of use especially in leadership positions are supposed to show empathy and commitment in ensuring that while there our compatriots are in this camp and, indeed, any other camp, their life and dignity is protected.
“(And) of course, I’d like to mention here that we must ensure that these Nigerians who are in this camp and other refugee camps, who are vulnerable in so many ways, receive what is due to them from the government.
“That is to say, there must be sufficient security presence here and, indeed, across the country to protect them.
“(But) they also need the government to do what is right. We are supposed to as a government provide some livelihood here. We must be able to give them something to eat, and we should do so responsibly.
“When I use the word responsibly, I mean not to throw away a few things and leave them to eke a living, because it is going to be impossible for these people here to eke any meaningful living on their own.
“This is a price we have to pay because of the security situation we have found ourselves in. Food alone is not enough.
“So, we will take particular interest in the health facilities available to this camp and, indeed, others.
“We would like to know the details of how and when they fall sick from a major sickness that would go beyond the capacity of primary health care – that requires a secondary health care intervention.
“We have a national policy on refugees and people in camps like these, how are we up-to-date with the implementation of the provisions of that national policy? It may sound too hard, but they are necessary questions and we owe these people.”
The Senate President added that the amendment to the Electoral Act by the National Assembly seeks to provide an electoral climate that would enable Nigerians to elect their leaders and representatives. He explained further that the review of the Constitution by the Ninth Assembly is aimed at ensuring that governance is improved in the country.
According to him, this can be realized through the provision of a legal framework that would provide for good governance at all levels of government.
Lawan disclosed that the National Assembly has been working closely with the executive arm of government to provide more resources to the armed forces and security agencies in the fight against insecurity.
He gave the assurances of the National Assembly to expedite action on the request when received, so as to ensure the return of internally displaced persons to their respective communities across the country.
Sadly, the Displacement Tracking Matric, revealed that there were 1,188,018 IDPs in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe States. The National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA also identified 47,276 IDPs in Abuja, Plateau, Nasarawa, Kano and Kaduna States in Northern Nigeria, and that the highest numbers of IDPs are in Borno 672,714 followed by Adamawa 220,159 and Yobe 135,810 IDPs while 79.7 percent of IDPs have been displaced by communal clashes in Taraba State.
A don, Aondover Eric Msughter of the Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University, Kano said in a recent article that the activities of Boko Haram in the past six years have forced over a million people to flee their homes. “This has resulted in an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the North East, as thousands of people are helpless and homeless. This is very disheartening,” he lamented.
Reports revealed that the management of IDPs has remained a tough issue to various administrations in Nigeria. The rehabilitation and resettlement of IDPs in the country as well as provision of adequate security for the victims have posed a bid challenge despite claimed efforts of federal government to achieve this aim.
There is an urgent need to embark on a holistic and well-coordinated approach with the help of foreign nations to effectively engage in technical and military actions in order to completely displace Boko Haram insurgents from their deadly enclaves in Nigeria and beyond.
Similarly, the government should be more proactive in the restructuring of destroyed houses of IDPs in their various communities so that they would have confidence to return home and also develop strong mechanisms to guarantee the protection and safety of IDPs especially those in the camps.
Also, Msughter urged the media to do more by highlighting the IDPs plights in order to draw attention of the government, civil society organisations, and other stakeholders to help improve their conditions. “Understandably, this will not reduce the sufferings of the internally displaced persons, but it will help to reduce crime in the society.
Because a society where people are living in agony and pains, dubious activities are bound to occur. A stitch in time saves nine,” he advised.
“We have a national policy on refugees and people in camps like these, how are we up-to-date with the implementation of the provisions of that national policy?
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