Confronting The IDP’s Crisis In Nigeria

IDP camp in Borno State. Image via Amnesty International

One of the world’s largest cases of humanitarian exigencies with over 2.9 million internally displaced persons are in the North-east and North-east of Nigeria. The crisis which is mainly triggered by insurgency and banditry has induced food insecurity and severe malnutrition. Recently the federal government launched the National Policy on IDPs that draws from international legal instruments with a desire to find a durable solution to their problem, Olawale Ajimotokan reports

The 2021 Humanitarian Needs Overview for Nigeria estimates that insecurity related to violent onslaught by Islamist groups, Boko Haram and ISWAP and the military counter operations continue to affect 26 million people living in the North-west with 8.7 million of them in need of humanitarian assistance.

Furthermore 6.5 million of these people are estimated to be in three most affected states of Adamawa, Bornu and Yobe.

Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State is the epicentre of the insurgency. It is home to about a million internally displaced persons (IDPs), all victims of the Boko Haram and ISWAP attacks. The city has scores of official and unofficial camps in Auno, Stadium, Bakassi, Muna Garage, Gubio, Dalori I and II dripping with IDPs who are struggling for limited food. There is severe hunger in these encampments.

The challenge has also spilled over to the frontier countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic creating one of the worst refugee crises in the world.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said the crisis has caused the Lake Chad Basin region to be grappling with a complex humanitarian emergency which has risen to critical levels in all four countries.

The Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally-Displaced Persons in Nigeria (NCFRMI), Imaan Sulaiman-Ibrahim said the commission had registered over 73,000 refugees under the Process B of UNCHR from over Chad, Niger and Cameroon.

She also added that apart from the three countries, the NCFRMI also has a plan to manage other Nigerian refugees domiciled elsewhere through a committee set up under the TWG of the Presidential Committee on Repatriation in the North- east set up to ensure their safe return.

“It is a process. Trust me we have all the instruments in place. It does not happen in one day. As we settle one community another one happens. What we are doing is to ensure that we have the right frame in place for refugee integration resettlement and rehabilitation,” she said.

Many victims fleeing the insurgency have found themselves in other states of the country as IDPs, living in squalid conditions in various settlements.

There are IDPs settlement in Goningora, Udawa, Mararaban Rido and Kujama, (Chikun LGA) and those in Zonkwa and Samaru Kataf in Zangon Kataf LGA in Kaduna State.

In the FCT, it is estimated that about 10,000 IDPs are currently living in about 20 settlements at Wassa, Durumi, Kuchingoro and Kuje among others in various parts of the territory.

Last year, a Cholera outbreak ravaged many states of the federation. Apparently due to the unhygienic conditions occasioned in many camps, several IDPs had gastro intestinal infections and in some cases, many of them died after they were exposed to drinking infected water and food.

The Secretary of the IDP Camp at Wassa Resettlement community, Usman Ibrahim said about 5,317 people were dwelling in the camp in conditions that did not befit humanity. He said many of the IDPs lived without good sanitary facilities and did not have access to portable water putting them at risk of all forms of infections.

He lamented that lack of access to clean water has made women to resort to fetching water from the stream that is contaminated with human faeces while the only bole hole that serves the community is hardly put into use because of unavailability of generating set to power it as the camp is not connected to the national gridlock.

Apart from that, the medical facility in the centre made up of seven divisions is under equipped while many of their children are out of school.

The challenges have also escalated into acute food shortage in the affected communities. A recent report jointly authored by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) warned that acute food insecurity may deteriorate further in Nigeria and 19 other countries, particularly between February and May 2022.

The report which was released in January called for expedited humanitarian action in what it described as 20 “hunger hotspots” including Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen where the lives and livelihoods of the part of the population would be in jeopardy from significant deterioration of acute food insecurity in the coming months.

And as one of the measures to mitigate this humanitarian challenge that made the federal government to donate $1 million to the UN towards the WFP as part of ECOWAS humanitarian assistance for victims of violence in Katsina, Zamfara and Borno States.

The fund is to provide food assistance to 4,196 persons from 840 households without food and to provide milling machines and training support to 603 returnees from Cameroon and displaced rural women to support them in generating some income to sustain their livelihoods.

To prevent acute malnutrition in children in the first 1,000 days of their lives, the WFP also provided nutrition assistance to children aged 6-23 months old and to pregnant and breastfeeding women from the vulnerable and food insecure households. Some 14,070 children and 1,932 pregnant and breastfeeding women received specialized nutritious food in the three project states.

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq said the project has provided the ministry the opportunity of showcasing best practices of partnership in delivering humanitarian intervention as well as advancing the federal government’s efforts in touching the lives of a critical mass of Nigerians in vulnerable situations.

It was in a bid to make humanitarian provision for persons obliged to leave their places of habitual residence to avoid effects of armed conflicts, violence and violation of human rights that the federal government launched the National Policy on IDPs in line with the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of internally displaced persons in Africa adopted in Kampala on October 22, 2009.

Umar said the federal government has commenced the stand alone process of domesticating the Kampala convention adding the relevant stakeholders had also been charged to come up with the draft bill for onward presentation to FEC and its transition to the National Assembly for necessary legislative action.

In order to ensure effective implementation of the policy, the minister also charged the National Coordination Technical Working Group and other relevant stakeholders to commence implementation plan with clear roles and responsibilities of all actors.

She said the plan should incorporate a monitoring and evaluation strategy which will ensure compliance with policy framework and scope as well as determining the extent of achievement of policy goals and objectives.

Farouq said the IDP policy intends to provide a framework for prevention and protection of citizens and, in some cases, non-citizens, from incidences of arbitrary and other forms of internal displacement, meet their assistance and protection needs during displacement and ensure their rehabilitation, return, reintegration and relocation after displacement.

“The policy integrated the provisions of existing international conventions, treaties and protocols on internal displacement, guided by the dictates of international humanitarian and human rights laws. It draws extensively on the guidance of international and national frameworks on the prevention of internal displacement, as well as those on protection and assistance of internally displaced persons.

“The Kampala Convention, the UN Guiding Principles on internal displacement and the sphere minimum standards for humanitarian assistance have significantly defined the direction of this policy,” Farouq said.

Apart from the IDP policy, the federal government also unveiled the Humanitarian Hub and Open House to enable the ministry, its agencies, partners and stakeholders to engage and connect with visitors, including the private sector and international development partners and NGOs.

Quote“The IDP policy intends to provide a framework for prevention and protection of citizens and, in some cases, non-citizens, from incidences of arbitrary and other forms of internal displacement, meet their assistance and protection needs during displacement and ensure their rehabilitation, return, reintegration and relocation after displacement”