The menace of Boko Haram onslaughts in the North- East has not only led to the untimely deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent and hapless Nigerians, but has also resulted into a serious humanitarian crisis staring the country in the face. Many people, especially women and children, have fled their homes, leaving everything behind. In fact, the number Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs in various camps are quite alarming and disturbing. In December 2015, the Internally Displaced Monitoring Centre estimated that there are almost 2,152,000 internally displaced people IDPs in Nigeria (IDMC 2016). The IDP population is composed of 53% women and 47% men. The majority of the current IDP population was displaced in 2014 (79%). The IDPs come mainly from Borno (62%), Adamawa (18%) and Yobe (13%). About 87% of IDPs live with host families, while 13% live in camps (DTM 2015). A total of 1, 934, 765 displaced persons are currently living in formal camps, host communities and satellite camps in liberated communities as a result of insurgency in North Eastern states of Borno, Yobe, Taraba, Gombe, Bauchi and Adamawa states. The Yola Camp Coordinator, Sa’ad Bello, hinted that there are 32 formal camps in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states with a total of 189, 783 IDPs. He revealed that Borno has 19 camps with 150, 858 IDPs; Yobe has 9 camps with 31, 988 IDPs and Adamawa 4 camps with 6, 937 IDPs. The Camp Coordinator added that there are 14 satellite camps in liberated communities, mainly in Borno state with 216, 184 IDPs, adding that the camps with the highest population are Ngala with 70, 505; Dikwa 53, 636; Bama 27, 000 and Damboa/ Sabon Gari 25, 311. Aside the current humanitarian crisis that has gotten to a tragic proportion, another source of concern is the poor and abysmal living condition of these IDPs. Despite the various material and financial assistance from government, corporate bodies and individuals, these camps are nothing to write home about. Many of these IDPs have lamented the absence of basic social amenities such as electricity, water and place of convenience. Again, there have been reported cases of prostitution, rape and child trafficking in some of these camps. Some women and girls have taken to prostitution as means of survival. Worse still, some government officials have been accused of diverting donor funds meant for these IDPs, thus exploiting these displaced people to their own advantage. Piqued by this ugly development, the House of Representatives has resolved to probe the alleged diversion of donor funds to IDPs in the North-East. The House has therefore mandated its Committees on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness; Loans, Aids and Debt Management; IDPs, Refugees and Initiatives on North-East to investigate the source and disbursement of the funds. The House resolution followed a motion on matters of urgent public importance
beyond what Borno state government and its citizens could handle. Lending his voice on the motion, Johnson Agbonayinman (PDP-Edo) lamented that the plight of these IDPs in various camps was indeed a big disgrace. The lawmaker wondered why someone or a group of people could be mean as to divert funds meant for IDPs, calling on all Nigerians to rise against corruption. Similarly, the Chairman, House Committee on IDPs, Refugees and Federal Government Initiatives on North-East, Hon Sani Zorro has called on the federal government to appoint a responsible, conversant and committed commissioner and chief executive for the National Commission for Refugees, NCR that can deliver on all mandates specified in the Geneva Convention and the Additional Protocol governing treatment of refugees and
on: ‘Need to Investigate the Alleged Diversion of Donor Funds Meant for the Internally Displaced Persons’ sponsored by Hon. Aliyu Isa (PDP-Gombe). Leading the debate on the floor of the House, Isa said despite the achievements recorded by the military in the fight against insurgency in the North-East, many IDPs are yet to return back to their towns and villages. While acknowledging the efforts of the federal government, wealthy individuals, international communities and donor agencies in their various contributions, Isa expressed concerned that despite these measures, many IDPs are still living in deplorable conditions and insisted that there is need to ascertain how some of these funds were disbursed and spent. In his contribution, Hon. Ayuba Bello (APC-Borno) stressed the need for Nigerians to assist these IDPs financially and otherwise, adding that many of them keep dying on daily basis. He noted that the alarming situation had gone  internally displaced persons, other regional treaties and agreements to which Nigeria is a signatory. Zorro explained that the NCR should adopt the national policy on IDPs and accelerate the domestication of the Kampala Convention – as measures capable of rebooting the confidence of international humanitarian partners and called on the federal government to work hand-in-hand with the National Assembly and other non-state parties to reverse Nigeria’s unenviable status as the world’s No. 4 ranking country, with highest internal displacement prevalence. He blasted federal government of inability to embrace best global policy practices that would have helped significantly in attracting the buy-in and commitment of genuine donor organizations and members of the humanitarian cluster. The lawmaker said NEMA and other agencies charged with camp management are incompetent and lack transparency in procurement procedures of the Presidential Initiative on North-East PINE, adding that the Victims Support Fund, VSF remain a ruse as they are observed in the breach. According to him, “The present chaos in the field can be traceable to the absence of concurrent plan(s) to respond to today’s internal displacement challenges, triggered by the intensified military campaign aimed at defeating Boko Haram insurgency. “For inexplicable reasons, too, the Federal Government has failed to embrace best global policy practices that would have helped significantly, in attracting the buy-in and commitment of genuine donor organizations, and members of the humanitarian cluster. “Agencies charged with camp management have only proved their incompetence, over the years, while transparency in procurement procedures of the Presidential Initiative on North- East (PINE), and the Victims Support Fund (VSF), remain a ruse as they are observed in the breach. “The situation has been aggravated further, by the refusal of the federal government, to adopt and operationalize the well articulated national policy on internally displaced persons (IDPs), developed and updated over the years. The policy’s objective, among others, is to facilitate effective and efficient coordination of humanitarian response among government agencies, local and international non-governmental organizations, as well as relevant organs of the United Nations. “The situation is again confounded by the non-challant attitude on the side of federal government, at driving the domestication process of the African Union Convention on Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), better known as the Kampala Convention, despite agitations, exhortations and pleas by experts and well- meaning organizations. “Regrettably, these and other failures have, over the years, multiplied and led to the current free-for- all situation in which large scale pillaging of food and non-food relief items, high infant mortality rates, gender- based-violence, high birth rates in camps and forests, squalor, malnourishment, and humanitarian profiteering by unconscionable people and groups, is the prevailing narrative from the North- East region”. From the prevailing situation on ground, federal government has not really done enough in alleviating the suffering and untold hardship these IDPs go through. It is quite sad that Nigeria, being one of the countries with the highest number of refugees, has no commissioner in charge of these displaced persons. Unfortunately, as a signatory to other global and regional treaties and agreement, the Nigeria has not been able to embrace best global practices that would have helped significantly in attracting genuine donor organizations and members of the humanitarian cluster. Now is indeed time for the federal government to show unflinching support, determination as well as genuine commitment in alleviating the plight of these IDPs by going extra miles in ensuring that material and financial aids are not diverted. Besides, there is need to upgrade the living standard of these camps. Nevertheless, while federal government is always expected to play the lead role, other wealthy individuals and organisations should emulate the philanthropic gesture of Aliko Dangote, who single- handedly donated N2 billion to these displaced persons.


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