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Time To Let IDPs Go Home



The issue of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country is becoming a national embarrassment because of the way it has been handled so far. The matter has reached the point that recent media reports reveal that the IDPs themselves are begging to be allowed to go home.

Part of the problem is the politicisation of a severe humanitarian situation which unscrupulous officials of government and even some non-governmental organisations have turned into an industry.

All over the country where these IDPs’ camps are located, there are allegations of deliberate exploitation of these unfortunate citizens who were forced to flee their homes as a result of crises generated by acts of insurgency. The government at federal and state levels working with international donor agencies have tried to manage the developments as best they can. Evidently, their efforts have so far been frustrated by human vultures who feed on the misfortune of their fellow human beings

A visit to these camps will reveal clear cases of how not to be one’s neighbour, as items such as food and other materials meant for the inmates are diverted and resold. The most vulnerable among the inmates- women and children- are exploited for sex and other forms of abuse.

These are reported in the media without any tangible action taken by the authorities to address identified lapses. Now, the IDPs themselves are beginning to take measures to address their plight by openly protesting against the treatment they are receiving in the camps. Protests are commonplace and we as a newspaper are joining them to appeal to the government to do the needful to ameliorate their plight by letting them go back to their homes and assist them in rebuilding their disrupted lives. But if the circumstances do not permit such a measure, then the government must act decisively and bring to book those who are wickedly compounding an already bad situation by making life even more hellish for them

Our concern actually is for the children who, due to no fault of theirs, have literally lost their childhood with all the negative impact it is capable of having on their lives. The government agencies such as National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) or even the recently established North East Development Commission must have lost count of the number of children caught up in this quagmire. The worrisome aspect of this is that some of the parents of these children may have died making them orphans and putting them at the mercy of merchants of misfortune masquerading as humanitarian organisations.

But the situation is not getting better as attacks by insurgents escalate almost on a daily basis with children as the major victims. Most of them die from physical exertion, hunger and or thirst while fleeing insurgents’ attacks.

We are disturbed by the statistics that emerge from the parts of the country where the crisis is more prevalent, even more so by reports of out-of-school children. If the government’s talk of making the economy be among the 20 largest in the world by the year 2020, then it must begin to take decisive steps to protect its young persons and ensuring that they are in situations that will make it possible for them to get formal education and be in a position to play their assigned role, in national development. No country ever attained greatness by neglecting its children or turning them into refugees in their own country with all the attendant negative connotations as well as the psychological trauma that go with it.

The recent protests by the IDPs in parts of Borno State ought to be strident enough to rouse the authorities from self-induced slumber and do what is necessary to meaningfully alleviate the sufferings of these Nigerians, especially the children. We, as Nigerians, have so deadened our sensibilities and have become so used to absurdities that nothing shocks us as a people anymore. Otherwise what is going on in these IDPs camps deserves to attract enough attention to cause some people to be committed to prison for exploiting the plight of their fellow citizens for personal pecuniary gains.

In our opinion, we are convinced that it is about time the IDPs are allowed to go home to pick up the pieces of their lives and move on.