By: Mohammed Kawu, Bauchi.
Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), a non-governmental organization (NGO) has raised alarm that thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) resulting from insurgency in the Northeast have been pouring out with no food medication and shelter.
“These are different from those internally displaced persons who are in camp. They are the unaccounted IDPs who have no luxury of camps. They have been trapped for years in the bush and have no means of escaping”, the organization said.
CITAD in a press briefing by its Bauchi coordinator, Isa Garba over the fate of the unaccounted IDPs in Bauchi weekend, said that those displaced but trapped in the bush are daily starving to death.
“They are dying of both hunger and thirst as well as from drinking of unhealthy water out of desperation” Garba explained, asserting that those IDPs have for over four years now not farmed and could not conduct business and have lost contact with other communities or government.
“They have no homes, food or water to drink and education has been disrupted”. According to him, efforts aimed at addressing the needs of the internally displaced persons have been largely concentrated in the urban centres, as relief materials are channel to known camps but those disconnected communities are even in greater need of such.
He described the condition of IDPs outside Maiduguri as calamitous as people are daily dying for want of food and water, stressing that with rainy season setting in, their conditions will even be worse by the lack of shelter, thus leaving them at the mercy of elements they have been exposed to for so long a time.
“Already there are reports of tens of people dying every day of hunger, thirst and lack of shelter especially in communities outside Maiduguri and the danger of mass starvation in these communities is so real.
“A number of stakeholders including governments, international donors and civil society have made commendable efforts in providing humanitarian intervention in various forms in the region. We commend them but we want to draw attention to the fact that such efforts, good intentioned as they are, are only scratching the surface. There is virtually no government presence in these communities neither is media there to report their plight”.
CITAD therefore called on the Federal and State Governments to declare state of humanitarian emergency in the region to galvanized greater action to rescue millions of people from starvation, and develop a comprehensive framework for humanitarian intervention in the northeast.
It asked that government should come up with a blue print, as currently the government has no policy on IDPs but only using the NEMA act which has it focus on refugees from other countries rather than on IDPs.
To protect rural communities in the northeast who as soft target have been bearing the worse burden of the insurgency, CITAD called on the National Assembly to quickly pass the North East Development Commission bill so that an accountable mechanism and structure for coordination of efforts in rebuilding and reconstruction of the region would be in place.
Mallam Isa Garba also wants government urgently extend humanitarian services outside of urban areas so that those communities that are daily facing the challenges of starvation can be rescued.