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Benue Varsity’s Helping Hand To IDPs, Refugees

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The Benue State University’s Centre for Food Technology and Research (CEFTER) has organised a training programme for the Internally Displaced Person (IDPs) and refugees on hygiene, safety and healthy living, Hembadoon Orsar reports.

The Benue State University’s Centre for Food Technology and Research, (CEFTER), has organised a training programme for 230 Cameroonian refugees taking shelter at the United  Nations High Commission Refugees (UNHCR) settlement, Anyake, in  Kwande local government area of Benue state.

The training programme is centred on food nutrition, hygiene,processing and preservation.

The event which was declared open by the vice chancellor of the institution, Professor Msugh Kembe, was to help enhance the wellbeing of the beneficiaries.

Represented by the project manager, CEFTER, Dr Barnabas Achakpaikyo, the VC explained that the decision of the centre to carryout the training at the refugee settlement was to ensure proper handling of their food from the time of planting, harvesting and consumption.

According to him, the centre embarked in the training programme to complement the efforts of the government and UNHCR who have set up the refugees camps and  are providing for the inmates.

“We are here at the refugee camp to teach them how to prepare and eat balance diet, how to process and preserve what ever food they have into different products to enhance their standard of  living.

“Out of the 3000 Cameroonian refugees that are in the settlement homes here, the centre has registered 230, to under go the training in food nutrition, safety, hygiene,preservation, processing and food waste management.

“We are going to teach them that, apart from akpu, cassava can be processed into other different products as well as yams so that many of them can earn a living afterwards and also know what to eat at the right time by balancing their diet”.

The chairman of the settlement, Peter Kecho who lamented the initial hostility by the host community, said  through the intervention of the Benue state government and the kind hearted head of Anyake community they are now living a normal life with the host community.

“We want to thank the Benue state government for wading into the hostility of the community which has now calmed down the situation. Before now, some refugees were being beaten by the host community, for coming to take over their land, but now we heave a sigh of relief, we are now living peacefully.

“Our major problem here now is the absence of health and educational facilities. We don’t have any of the two here, and there are over 1,000 children of school age here and all of them are out of school.”

He disclosed that 18 persons had already lost there lives while in the camp due to absence and poor health facility in the camp.

Kecho appealed to the Nigerian government to provide health facilities alongside mosquito nets for the refugees who he said are dying of malaria due to mosquito bites.

“We have a major problem of health facility as there is no hospital close to the settlement.So, if any one falls sick, we have to go far to access the facility which is not good enough,” he stated.

In another development  the centre also visited Abagena and Daudu Internally Displaced Persons Camps located in Makurdi and Guma local government areas to  teach them the essence of hygiene in order to stem  outbreak of diseases at the camps.

In addition to teaching the IDPs how to keep themselves and the  environment clean, the centre also provided assorted relief materials to them to alleviate their plight.

Addressing the IDPs, Director Programmes and Operations of  CEFTER, Dr Barnabas Achakpaikyo said the campaign was part of the annual programmes of the centre to reach out to the Vulnerable.

Vice Chancellor, Benue State University, Prof Msugh Kembe,  who decried the pathetic situation of the IDPs, enjoined to them not to be weighed down by their present situation.

Represented by the Dean Post Graduate School, Prof Yina Varvar, the VC said the awareness was part of the university’s service to the public, especially the down trodden.

He expressed the need for the IDPs to imbibe the proper hygiene culture to avoid outbreak of diseases that could lead to avoidable deaths.

The Secretary of CEFTER, Dr Scholastica Bam who Sympathised with the IDPs, noted that the centre was aware of their suffering, hence the staging of the awareness campaign in the camps.

The CEFTER “Hygiene and Safety Awareness Campaign team, sensitised the IDPs on hand washing, food preservation, bathing, cooking and kitchen hygiene as well as other related issues.

The IDPs were also tutored on the importance of eating balance diet such as fruits and other nutritional diets for a healthy living.

They were also thrilled with a short drama on the need to keep a good hygiene by the Theater Arts students of the university, while the children and adults in the camps danced to the rhythm of the music to the admiration of their visitors.

Some of the IDPs, including Felicia Angwe and Aondoakaa Toryem expressed appreciation to CEFTER for its kind gesture.

They also commended CEFTER for the initiative, saying the training will help them to imbibe the culture of healthy living . They added that their major challenge in the camps is non availability of enough food.

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