The growing number of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs in the country and the anti-terrorism war in the North-East geopolitical zone, has thrown up new challenges as government battles headlong with insurgency and the displaced persons.
The United Nations Country Representative, Mr Dauda Toure, added a frightening dimension to the already worrisome situation, saying that Nigeria has the highest number of IDPs in the world, numbering about 1.5million, an unusual increase within months of repeated Boko Haram carnage in the zone.
It would be recalled that the Displacement Tracking Matrix, released by the International Organisation for Migration in conjunction with National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, for June 2015, shows that no fewer than 1.4million persons have so far been displaced by insurgency and communal clashes in the same zone.
The report then showed that Borno State had the highest number of IDPs with 1,002,688, followed by Yobe 125,484 and Adamawa 113,437. Bauchi has 76,504, Gombe 16,984 and Taraba 20,501. The report, which also indicated that in June there was a slight decrease in the number of IDPs compared to that of April, attributed it to the movements of people to their homelands. The addition of 1.1million IDPs within months calls for apprehension.
Globally, the statistics is equally frightening; with no less than 38million people internally displaced in their own countries and between 70 and 80percent of these are women and children.
According to another report by the Norwegian Refugee Council, NRC, there were 12.5million IDPs in 21 sub-Saharan countries, and Nigeria was the highest in Africa, representing a third of the IDPs in Africa and 10percent of IDPs in the world. Presently, Nigeria only ranks behind Syria with 6.5 and Colombia with 5.7million IDPs, respectively.
It is also sad to observe that most of the displacements are caused by inter-related factors such as insurgency, political violence and communal clashes, as well as other forms of natural disasters like flood.
The challenge before most governments is that of protecting and assisting the IDPs in their different camps. Though this is not a new problem, in international relations, it is the responsibility of each government to provide adequate assistance and protection for the IDPs in her country. Ironically, about 5million IDPs in about 11 countries are without any significant humanitarian assistance from their respective governments.
Therefore, the provision of assistance and protection to victims of war must be fast-tracked, while non-governmental bodies willing to render support should be allowed since government alone cannot shoulder the huge responsibility. Unlike that of the refugees, IDPs have no international humanitarian institution which has the overall responsibility of protecting and assisting them. We appeal to government, as a matter of urgency, to ensure that the IDPs are properly rehabilitated and their shelter made habitable. There is need for more resources to be made available towards improving responsiveness in the areas of education and healthcare for the IDPs. Also, the international communities and non-governmental organisations can as well make more funds available to help rebuild the livelihoods of the affected victims of insurgency in the zone.
However, beyond all these, the recurring violence across the country must be viewed largely as an indication of poor governance and failure to address the national question. Or how else can one explain the wanton destruction of lives and property on pseudo-religious and ethnic grounds? The spate of violence witnessed thus far, particularly under the new administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, is a frightening record and must therefore, serve as another wakeup call to the government.
It is cheering to note that the President has given the military high command an ultimatum to quash the insurgency within the next few months, precisely by October. If successfully prosecuted, we believe this will end the senseless carnage and displacement of Nigerians.


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