The news that no fewer than 38million people are Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) inside their own countries globally is worrisome.
Also troubling is the fact that between 70 and 80 percent of all IDPs are women and children. This scary information is contained in a report released last week by the Internal Displaced Monitoring Centre (IDMC) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), tagged “Global Overview 2014: People Internally Displaced By Conflict and Violence.”
According to the report, there are 12.5million IDPs in 21 sub-Saharan countries, and Nigeria accounts for 3.3 million IDPs, which is the highest in Africa. Approximately, it represents a third of the IDPs in Africa and 10 percent of IDPs in the world. On a global scale, Nigeria is only ranked behind Syria with 6.5 million IDPs and Colombia with 5.7 million IDPs.
The report also noted that displacement is caused by a correlation of interrelated factors, like violence, communal clashes, flood and storms, etc. But the main cause of displacement in Nigeria, according to the report, is multifarious such as the increased number of Boko Haram attacks, heavy-handed counterinsurgency operations by the Nigerian military and ongoing inter-communal violence in some states of the federation.
It would be recalled that the Boko Haram insurgents were pushed out of major towns in the North-East geopolitical zone following the declaration of a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states in May 2013.
The group therefore focused its attacks with increased and renewed brutality on towns and villages close to Nigeria’s borders with Cameroon, Niger and Chad, killing more than 1,500 people in the first three months of 2014 alone and half of those killed were civilians, with several others maimed or displaced.
This sadly led to the destruction of properties, businesses and farmlands which forced many inhabitants to flee to neighbouring towns and villages as well as into border countries like Chad, Cameroon and Niger.
This manifold but complex causes faced daily by the IDPs, no doubt provides a significant challenge to governments at all levels and other humanitarian groups. One of this is that of protecting and assisting IDPs in their different camps. The question of protecting and assisting IDPs is not a new problem. In international law, it is the responsibility of the government concerned to provide assistance and protection for the IDPs in their country. But sadly, some 5 million IDPs in 11 countries are without any significant humanitarian assistance from their respective governments. So the provision of assistance and protection to the IDPs must be synergised by government in order to accommodate other willing non-governmental bodies as government alone cannot shoulder the growing needs of the IDPs.
Unlike the case of refugees, there is no international humanitarian institution which has the overall responsibility of protecting and assisting the internally displaced. Therefore, government must encourage well-meaning Nigerians, religious and socio-cultural groups to step up their assistance to the IDPs.
For instance, NEMA, in collaboration with other United Nations agencies is currently providing medical equipment and health facilities treating victims in IDPs camps scattered across the country. And in some areas they have even deployed ambulances to strategic locations to support and evacuate victims to hospitals and to provide first aid were necessary.
However, we appeal to government as a matter of urgency to ensure that the IDPs are not only properly rehabilitated, but re-orientated in tune with the demands of present day society. Above all, they should be returned to settle back in their places of initial origin and reunited with their people and culture properly.


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