Six years after they took refuge in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps across the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the story of those chased out of their communities by insurgents has not changed. In this report, KEHINDE OSASONA probes further on the federal government’s next line of action.
According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), today more than 2.6 million people are living in displacements across Nigeria.
It was also learnt that thousands of IDPs inmates still sleep in the open with no protection from the sun, rains, dangerous reptiles and mosquitoes.
Worst still, children and the vulnerable among them cannot access better health care which has worsened their conditions.
Apart from being malnourished, many of the children are reportedly suffering from an array of medical complications, just as the unlucky ones have died in the process.
Apart from the militant Islamist group assault, which has already triggered tension and fears, frequent clashes between farmers and herdsmen over the years have also culminated in considerable levels of hostility and displacement across the country.
Resettlement plans, matters arising
From New Kuchingoro to Lugbe, Area One, Durumi, Kuje and other Internally Displaced Camps scattered across the FCT, the story of IDPs inmates who fled the North-east to Abuja has grown from bad to worse.
For many of the victims of Boko Haram insurgents who fled their villages and towns and are now domiciled in Abuja IDPs, it has been a tale of tears, regrets and anguish with dashed hopes.
Although it was learnt that some of the IDPs established themselves in 2014 or thereabouts, the presence of thousands of people who throng the camps daily has raised concerns ranging from healthy living, security, proper welfare.
Consequently, concerned Nigerians, non-governmental organisations and kind- hearted individuals have continued to raise the alarm on the poor living conditions of the IDPs.
Not only that, they have at one time or the other salvaged the situation by donating gift items, foods, clothing, and cash.
However, they are of the view that it is not enough to continue to give the IDPs inmates hand-outs, stressing that the time to initiate their resettlement plan is now.
A public affairs commentator, Iyalla Jacob, noted that, “By implication, Abuja is presently housing its various IDPs inhabitants from about 500 households across the North-east and North-west. Going by the figures being brandied recently by a concerned welfare organisation, over 3, 000 youth and almost 2, 000 children populations are scattered in Abuja IDPs camps after being chased out of their ancestral home by the deadly Boko Haram group.”
Lending his voice in support of the plan, another commentator, Illiyasu Ahmad, wondered why the federal government “cannot take a cue from the Borno state governor, Babagana Zulum, who recently relocated some of the displaced persons to their ancestral homes.”
Ahmad noted that such a move should not be viewed as an impossible task, but cautioned that they must ensure that their abodes had been cleared of insurgents.
“Why not relocate the IDPs to their homes if truly the soldiers have successfully dispersed and partially won the war as by the government has stated?”
During a visit to the Kuchingoro’s camp, this reporter saw a bit improved camp which was a clear departure from how it used to look.
Some of the things sighted were school, mosque and wellbeing centres. However, when asked about their means of survival, one of the inmates who refused to be named insisted that they still live largely on donations from public-spirited organisations and individuals.
Maryam wants to go home
When Blueprint Weekend sought to know whether or not she was ready to re-unite with his family and relatives in Borno state, another inmate and mother of two said she was ready to be resettled.
With tears in her eyes, the IDP, who identified herself as Mzeillah Maryam from Gwoza district, expressed readiness to go back home, but was not optimistic about the government’s readiness to carry out the exercise.
“When we were chased out of our village in 2015, my husband was already out of town leaving our two children in my custody.
Fortunately for me, on that fateful day, my spirit was telling me not to go to a nearby market as I used to do and I kept walking around and about our compound until there was no time for me to go on that journey.
If I had gone to that market, our two children would have been captured by Boko Haram because they would not have known what to do or where to run to.
“But, we thank God for the soldiers who rescued, and took us on a long journey to Maiduguri.
It is only God that can determine that, but truth be told, I like to return home.
There is no place like home and I think home is better compared to the kind of life we live in the IDPs camp.
“We do all manners of odd jobs to survive. For me, home is better; my only fear is the news that whenever people are settled, we hear stories of militants coming back again to raid and kill them.”
Although Blueprint Weekend could not verify the source of her claims, other inmates who craved anonymity slammed the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for abandoning the IDPs to their fate.
“For God’s sake, why is NEMA behaving as if they are tired of us? At a point, we did not hear from them at all, only for them to resurface sometime ago to talk about a programme or something like that.
Let me tell you, none of us here places our hope on the government and its agencies any longer,” he said.
When Blueprint Weekend contacted NEMA for reaction, the receiver at the other end declined comments, saying he was not authorised to do so.
He nevertheless advised this reporter to book an appointment with the DG, Alhaji Muhammadu Muhammed, for further enquiries.