Humanitarian crisis, IDP’s and the Buhari presidency, By Jide Ayobolu

1449, Humanitarian crisis, Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) and the Buhari presidency

No fewer than seven million Nigerians are now facing humanitarian crisis, a new report published by the International Organization for Migration, IOM, has shown. Of the figure, 1.9 million people were displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency.

The report noted that since the beginning of 2015, the North-East of Nigeria has witnessed an increase in violence conducted by Boko Haram, causing a major humanitarian crisis. It said: “The intensification of attacks, as well as the counter-insurgency activities has resulted in chronic insecurity and violations of human rights and humanitarian standards, exacerbating the plight of vulnerable civilians and triggering waves of forced displacement.”

IOM said it was working with its partners to help the Federal Government support some 2.4 million displaced people in the affected states. According to the reports, “there are now seven million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Nigeria , including 1.9 million displaced by the insurgency.

“Some 92 per cent of the IDPs are hosted by low-income host communities, bringing already-stretched services and resources under increased pressure.”

It, however, called for more donor support, as well as deeper collaboration among humanitarian actors for effective coordination of humanitarian assistance to the affected population. Through its Displacement Tracking Matrix, DTM, the organization is currently conducting assessments of the number of internally displaced persons, IDPs, in the area and their needs to inform the humanitarian response of the government and the international community.

The report added: “In the worst-affected state of Borno, IOM teams are currently working in 15 previously inaccessible local government areas, LGAs, and 86 wards and hope to access other badly affected areas. This means the military have recorded major successes for the organizations to have access to places that were hitherto inaccessible.

The data emerging clearly shows very high levels of humanitarian need. “According to the most recent DTM report, 1,434,149 IDPs have been identified in Borno, out of a total of 2.4 million in the whole area.” “As part of the DTM program, IOM is conducting biometric registration of IDPs in Adamawa and Borno states, as well as in Yobe state, where it is supporting the UN World Food Programme’s Cash Transfer Programme. “As of the end of March 2016, a total of 124,827 individuals – 98,209 in Borno and 26,618 in Yola – have been biometrically registered.

The vast majority of IDPs who have been registered live in host communities, where little or no assistance has been provided due to lack of humanitarian access and security concerns,” IOM Nigeria Chief of Mission Enira Krdzalic said: “In support of the National Emergency Management Agency, IOM is systematically collecting data on the humanitarian crisis in northeast Nigeria and neighbouring countries.

“The data clearly shows the massive scale of the emergency and urgent humanitarian needs. IOM is working with the government and partners to provide humanitarian assistance to IDPs and other affected populations, but the scale of the problem far exceeds available resources.” In addition to DTM and registration, IOM is providing shelter, camp management, psychosocial support, livelihoods and other services to IDPs and affected populations.

The humanitarian crisis in the camps is worsened by revelations that items and funds meant for IDPs in various parts of the country are being diverted.

On June 23, the House of Representatives mandated its committees on emergency and disaster preparedness; loans, aids and debt management; and IDPs, refugees and initiatives on North-east to investigate allegations that the donations and their disbursement of materials meant for the displaced persons were being diverted.

It noted that the federal government, local donor groups as well as wealthy individuals have committed funds for the same purposes, worrying “that despite all the donations, a large number of these IDPs are living in hunger, very deplorable and unhygienic conditions without any rehabilitation in sight.”

Similarly, Ibrahim Magu, chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, expressed worry over complaints of corruption in the IDPs camps. Magu said the complaints came from international humanitarian organizations and other civil society organizations that were donating relief materials to victims of the Boko Haram insurgency in the north-east, camped in different parts of the country. “We want to be sure that there is transparency, accountability and judicious use of the money allocated to Internally Displaced Persons in Maiduguri and elsewhere,” the EFCC chairman stated while visiting the reopened zonal office of the commission in Maiduguri .
“What we are doing is gathering intelligence but the culprits behind the sufferings in the IDP camps will be invited sooner or later by the EFCC.”

This shows evidently that the Buhari’s government is committed to the wellbeing and welfare of all the people in the IDP camps. Also, the Senate Committee on Special Duties was mandated to carry out a fact finding visit to the troubled states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe to ascertain the true challenges of the IDPs.

The Senate further urged the federal government to coordinate immediate fund raising with the private sector to ensure that no Nigerian child or woman dies of malnutrition while commending governments of affected states and neighbouring states for their efforts in accommodating and feeding some of the IDPs.

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The senate position is especially important as severe malnutrition kills one million children annually worldwide. Most of the casualties occur in war-ravaged areas. While hunger affects all human beings, it is more devastating for children. In 2015, 98 out of the 450 persons who died in 28 Nigerian IDP camps were children, according to the Borno State Government. The camps recorded 6,444 malnutrition cases.

It is also o record that, Borno IDP officials were called by President Muhammadu Buhari to explain malnutrition and numerous deaths of internally displaced persons. Borno officials seem to be in big trouble as President Muhammadu Buhari is seeking explanation of “catastrophic” health crisis unfolding at the governmental camps for persons displaced by the Boko Haram terrorist group.

Officials of the Borno State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Rock villa in Abuja recently, the president is irate at the catastrophic humanitarian emergency situation at the camps for the IDPs despite the billions of naira and humanitarian aid provided by the federal government, state governments, non-governmental organizations and private individuals.

The reaction from presidency comes days after Médecins Sans Frontières also known as Doctors Without Borders (MSF) released the statement and photographs showing malnourished and dying people in the camps. The agency has recently issued a disturbing report on their inspection of a camp, where they found about 1,233 graves, 480 of which contain children, located near the camp. According to the MSF, 24,000 IDPs are in dire health situation with at least six people – mostly children – dying every day.

Gov Kashim Shettima, the governor of Borno state, visited Bama camp after receiving reports about dozens of people rescued from Boko Haram captivity only to die at the camps. Mr Shettima ordered the relocation of 61 children with severe form of malnutrition to intensive care-unit in Maiduguri .

Besides, the MSF jointly with Nigerian authorities reportedly evacuated 1,192 people in need of medical treatment from the Bama area. Mortality at its highest An official at Bama camp commented on the situation: “We have been recording daily cases of mortality here in the camp since the soldiers brought in these set of IDPs who had been under the Boko Haram insurgents’ captivity for over two years.”

Another source who recently visited the mentioned camp said: “The local camp officials in Bama could not notice the case of malnutrition in the IDPs hence they continued to feed them with the normal staple foods consumed by the camp inmates.”

According to the Borno state government: “The MSF had never visited the camps, even though other aid workers have been going to the camp frequently. It was because the Governor visited Bama and brought the sick and malnourished IDPs to Maiduguri after the soldiers of the Nigeria Army rescued them that even the MSF were able to go there to administer medication on them. But instead of acknowledging our effort they were busy issuing statements claiming credit for what they did not do. The Governor had visited the camp twice and the Deputy Governor too had also visited the camp couple of times and all these while life in the camp was normal. Until soldiers rescued these group of malnourished persons and moved them into the Bama camp. It was not as if the malnourishment was as a result of the situation in the camp but because of the torture and hunger the Boko Haram insurgents subjected them to over two years.”

Earlier Governor Kashim Shettima has signaled his government’s intention to resettle IDPs into their homes by December 2016.

It is equally important to note that, the presidential assessment team has commenced assessment of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to check against malnourishment and other challenges facing the victims of the Boko Haram insurgency in Borno State . At one of the IDPs’ camps in Borno, the presidency disclosed that the six-year old insurgency by Boko Haram has resulted in the displacement of more than two million people across Nigeria , Cameroon , Niger and Chad .

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on IDPs, Dr Mariam Masha, assured that, alongside the humanitarian work, the Federal and State Governments are also focusing on the longer-term work of ensuring that the reconstruction and resettlement is effectively hastened to enable the IDPs return to their homes and communities, and rebuild their lives and livelihoods. the military continues its task of liberating hitherto isolated communities from the grip of Boko Haram, the scale of the humanitarian crisis is certain to increase, and called for increased support from all partners and stakeholders.

Therefore, the dynamic Buhari presidency, has left no stone unturned in a bid to bring hope and succour to people in the different IDP camps, as well as ensure that general peace and security; which are the main ingredients for real development, not only in the entire north eastern part of the country, but throughout the nooks and crannies of the country is fostered.

Jide Ayobolu, a social commentator, writes from Lagos

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