Resettling The IDPs | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Resettling The IDPs

terrorism, stunted children; IDPs
Posted: Sep 7, 2016 at 6:30 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The recent observation and declaration by the United Nation’s expert on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Chaloka Beyin, that the IDP crises as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency and the government’s counter-insurgency measures have presented the highest category crises, call for urgent action by the government and stakeholders to ensure that the IDPs are better protected and resettled in their communities.

Mr Beyin who made his observation known while speaking after a four-day visit to Nigeria, noted that there was a gross underestimation of the displacement crisis considering that “the number of IDPs is well over 2. 5 million in the region,” adding that “the IDPs do not get adequate food, medical care, water, sanitation and other essential services”. He also observed that a vast majority of the IDPs who live outside the official camps receive little or no assistance.

We agree with the UN representative that urgent steps need to be taken to identify these people and assess their needs, particularly those of the most vulnerable, as well as the need of the host communities who are supporting them with the little resource they have.

We also agree that the level of the IDP crisis is more than meet the eyes. While certain reports put an estimated 2,233, 506 internally displace persons in Nigeria as at October 2015, the Social Welfare Network Initiative (SWNI), one of the non-governmental organisations working with the IDP issues in Nigeria,  noted that the actual figures for the IDPs could be much higher, especially as most local governments in the affected areas are said to be insecure and inaccessible. Statistics shows that only about 8% of the IDPs have been identified and are stationed in the official IDP camps run by government. The other 92% live among host communities.

To be fair, the federal government through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), as well as the affected state governments, especially, Borno,  has been making concerted efforts to ensure that the IDPs are well catered for. To this end, the Federal government has established the Nigerian Foundation for the Support of Victims of Terrorism, otherwise known as Victim Support Fund (VSF), headed by (Rtd) General T.Y Danjuma. So far, the fund has raised billions of Naira with which it is currently deploying in the care and support of the victims of insurgency by way of donating relief materials – food, medicine and other items, as well as providing psychological support, economic empowerment and education for victims of terror in the country. Other government initiatives to mitigate the suffering of victims of terror are the Pres­idential Initiative for the North East as well as the Safe School Initiative launched in June 2014.

Besides, many other international organisations and Non-governmental organisations (NGO) have also been lending their unflinching support to the IDPs. Among them are the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, United Nations Children Fund, Catholic Relief Services, For­ward in Action for Education, Poverty and Mal­nutrition, to mention but a few. This is even as some individuals have also been helping out through engaging in some volun­tary services such as hosting some of the IDPs as well as donation of relief materials to them.

It is, however, unfortunate that these efforts by both government and non-state actors seem like a scratch on the surface in terms of what needs to be done to bring succour to the IDPs in the country. We make bold to say that resettling the IDPs in their various communities and giving them back their lives is more honourable and the better option. As it were, the fight against insurgency in the North east cannot be said to be won until these victims are resettled. To do this, the communities must be secured and rebuilt. 

Moreover, their destroyed means of livelihood needs to be restored by doing something to jumpstart their economic lives. Leaving the IDPs in camps and catering for them, as well as ensuring their protection would continue to be a daunting task and may not bode well for them in the long run.

In the meantime, we urge that collaboration be intensified between the Federal, state governments and other relevant agencies to step up protection measures and welfare in the camps. Those living in non-official camps should be identified in their host communities so as to extend such welfare actions.

Certainly, the current situation of the IDPs calls for intensified efforts from both the government and donor agencies to allay the concerns of Nigerians and the international community.