Humanitarian workers have pulled out of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
The decision followed the outbreak of violence in the camp during a protest by the IDPs over the quantity of food brought in for distribution.
The Gubio Road IDP camp is home to displaced persons from 11 local governments of the state, and one of the 13 government recognised IDP camps in Maiduguri.
The needs of the affected population are enormous and almost insatiable, even with the team of government aid agencies and humanitarian partners.
On Saturday last week, displaced persons were angry with the quantity of food brought in for distribution and reacted violently, smashing cars and injuring some humanitarian workers until security forces contained the mayhem.
Following the incident, all humanitarian activities in the camp were suspended until the safety of the humanitarian workers was guaranteed.
– Two Bowls Of Sorghum A Month –
One of the IDPs, Ibrahim Abubakar, explained the reasons for the protest during an interview when Channels Television crew visited the camp.
Abubakar said, “We were angry with these people (humanitarian workers) not because of the sorghum they gave us, but because we simply asked for a quantity that would adequately feed us and our families.”
“Two bowls cannot sustain us for a whole month, no one can survive on two bowls of sorghum for a whole month; that is our problem. But if they bring food that would sustain us up to a month we would be happy.”
Another displaced person, Maimuna Kassum, said, “The protest was done because of the delay in food distribution and when they finally came, they didn’t bring enough. That was why people protested.”
“In the past, they used to give us rice but this time around they brought sorghum; two bowls for every family for the next one month.
“It won’t be enough since we have children and that’s why people got impatient and did what they did. With this kind of problems, returning home would have been better for us, it’s just that we don’t have a home when we return,” she lamented.
– Choice Of Rice Over Sorghum –
On its part, the Borno State Emergency Management Agency condemned the attack on aid workers by the angry IDPs in their camp.
The Chairman of SEMA, Ahmed Satomi, noted that the protest was not as a result of food shortage in the camp as claimed, but the choice of food requested by the IDPs.
Satomi said, “The Gubio incident is not an issue of insufficient food but a breach of communication, based on complaints by the IDPs over their choices of rice over sorghum while others preferred sorghum over rice.”
“So in the process, there was a delay for about one week while we were trying to sort things out and then an issue came up that if they are taking sorghum, the ration has to be increased.
“All these should not give them room to attack humanitarian workers, this is unacceptable and we are working with the security agencies to arrive at a common ground so that the distribution will continue,” he explained.
The SEMA Chairman said the efforts of the military has reduced the number of IDPs living in camps in Maiduguri in the last few weeks from 158,000 to 147,000.
He noted that the return process was, however, voluntary in line with the Kampala Convention.
Earlier, the UNHCR had stated that the needs of the affected population living in IPD camps can never be satisfied through humanitarian means.
The UNHCR’s Representative to Nigeria/ ECOWAS, Antonio Canhandula, who addressed a gathering in Borno State last week, said the only viable solution was to work towards returning the IDPs home.
“We can never have enough for the IDPs. We are talking about hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people who are in need and you cannot continue assisting these populations in a humanitarian form forever.
“You also have other humanitarian responsibilities around the world and there is competition for resources and then the best thing is to help the government to create conditions for people to return home. It will never be enough,” Canhandula said.
The Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) living with disabilities in Yobe State have been provided with some relief materials as well as health support to improve their comfort.
A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), the Christaphen Blinding Mission (CBM) made some donations to physically challnged persons at the Kukareta IDPs camp located on the outskirts of Damaturu, the state capital in Nigeria’s northeast.
Those who benefited from the gesture were the cripples, blinds, lepers and the aged among other destitute totalling about 550 persons.
The Programme Officer of CBM in Yobe State, Mr Elisha Agagak, said that the essence was to carry the IDPs along in the sharing of succour at this critical time of need.
He noted that in the distribution of relief materials, it has always been survival of the fittest as those living with disabilities get to be under-served.
The CBM, which is said to have greatly improved the lives of destitute and people with disabilities in Yobe State, also reached out to the IDPs in the area of health.
A mental health physician, Dr. Charles Nwoga, said that the mission made the health support necessary, considering the fact that most of them have severe mental challenges as a result of the insurgency.
Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, the village head of Kukareta, Mr Bulama Lawan, commended the mission for the gesture.
Mr Lawan noted that it was the first time disabled IDPs were being prioritised in the distribution of food and non-food items.
A civil society organisation has appealed to the Federal Government to grant amnesty to members of the Boko Haram sect who were forcefully recruited into the group.
The Coalition of Women Advancement in Africa (COWAA) said that the reprieve would enable government to further decimate the population of the dreaded group.
The Executive Vice President of COWAA, Mrs Jummai Pukat, made the call while addressing a news conference in Abuja on Monday.
According to Mrs Pukat, granting amnesty to such members of the group would assist the military in sustaining the onslaught against the leadership of the sect.
Commending the efforts of the military in the fight against terror, COWAA called on the Nigerian Armed Forces to intensify efforts aimed at ensuring that innocent lives are not wasted by the insurgents.
Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar made the statement on Monday during his Easter visit to the troops in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
While describing as unfortunate the insurgents’ insistence on destroying the peace of Borno State and the entire Nigeria’s northeast, he applauded the commitment of officers and men of the Armed Forces.
The Chief of Air Staff has reassured Nigerians that the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast will soon be brought to an end.
Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar made the statement on Monday during a visit to observe the Easter holiday with the troops in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
The Chief of Air Staff said that it was unfortunate that a group of persons were bent on destroying the peace of Borno State and the entire Nigeria’s northeast.
He, however, applauded the commitment of officers and men of the Air Operations Unit of the Joint Task Force saying the Nigerian Air Force would continue to treat issues affecting their welfare with utmost urgency.
During the visit, the Air Chief paid homage to the Shehu of Borno, Abubakar Garbai, where he assured the monarch that the end to insurgency was at hand.
In his response the Shehu of Borno lamented the damage the Boko Haram insurgents have done to the kingdom which has been in existence for over 1,200 years.
Departing the palace of the monarch, the Chief of Air Staff also visited the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Dalori where the force has an emergency hospital for an ‘on the spot assessment’ of the situation of the camp.
The Commanding Officer of the 79 Composite Group Medical Centre, Wing Commander Solomon Irmiya, and the Administration Officer of NEMA, Isa Yusuf, both commended the Air Chief for his visit but also seized the opportunity to talk about the condition of the camp.
The Victims Support Fund (VSF) has distributed some learning materials to 3000 school children in Yobe State, Northeast Nigeria.
Text books, writing materials, and bags among others were distributed to school children affected by insurgency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.
The gesture was disclosed by the Executive Secretary of the Victims Support Fund, Professor Sunday Ocheche, while launching the programme at the IDPs camp in Pompomari area of Damaturu, the Yobe State capital.
Professor Ocheche said that the mandate of his organisation is to administer support to victims of insurgency and create the enabling environment for accelerated recovery and sustainable peace and development in the country, particularly the affected areas.
He said that apart from the educational support, the organisation is also committed to promoting peace in the war ravaged areas and the country as a whole, as well as engage in economic empowerment for the less privileged affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.
Ocheche said that the intention of the organisation is to directly impact the lives of children in the state who are victims of the insurgency.
He expressed hope that the efforts done so far by government and Non-Governmental Organisations across the country and the world at large would help reduce the re-occurrence of the Boko Haram insurgency.
Receiving the materials on behalf of the Yobe State government, the Commissioner of Education, Mohammed Lamin, called on others to emulate VSF by providing other interventions in the areas of chairs construction of classroom blocks among others.
He urged the school authorities to ensure the teachers and pupils make the best use of the materials supplied.
In his remark, the Headmaster at the Pompomari IDP School, Mr Bunu Bulamaand, and a teacher in the school, Mr Oluwaseun, both described the gesture as magnanimous and promised to use the teaching facilities for the purpose intended.
The pupils, according to them have greatly improved academically compared to how they started and called for more support towards assisting the educational needs of the displaced children.
The next critical support according to VSF, would be targeting the economic empowerment of women, mostly the IDPs who lost their husband during the war and have assumed responsibility of the home.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives has assured that Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) will continue to receive FG’s attention until the war against the Boko Haram insurgents is completely over.
Hon. Yakubu Dogara gave the assurance on Thursday shortly after donating relief materials to the victims of the insurgency at the IDP camps in Wassa on the outskirt of Abuja.
He said that the recent appointments of people from the region by the Federal Government to head agencies responsible for the security of the region was a deliberate effort to curb the menace.
Hon Dogara also thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing some of the service chiefs from the region, restating that the issues of the IDPs would always be in the front burner.
In company of the Speaker, the Chairman of House Committee on IDPs, Rep. Muhammed Zorro and another legislator, Rep. Agbonayinman Johnson, also appealed to the government to continue to provide for their welfare.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki has expressed anguish over Friday’s bomb blast inside the Malkohi Internally Displaced Persons’ camp in Yola, Adamawa State capital, Nigeria’s Northeast region.
Senator Saraki condemned in strong terms the Yola blast saying the “inhuman act” could only have been perpetrated by sadists and evil people now facing imminent defeat.
“My prayers go out to victims of the attacks at the largest IDPs camp located in Yola.
The IDPs in the Northeast need our support now more than ever.
The insurgents have resorted to cowardly methods because they are being routed by our military”
He adds that troops have demonstrated in no unmistakable terms that they are ready to keep a date with the December ultimatum given to the newly decorated Service Chiefs to crush the insurgents by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Senator Saraki also commiserates with the Saudi Arabian authorities and the Muslim Ummah over the construction crane that crashed into Mecca’s grand mosque, the Kabbah, killing at least 107 people, with scores more injured, days before the commencement of this year’s Hajj.