Apart from not having a comfortable place of abode, the unfortunate IDPs in Tse-Yandev in the state, now have to contend with hunger and starvation as well as poor absence of healthcare. In fact, the agony of these innocent victims can best be linked to the drastic reduction in the quantity and quality of food being served them, a situation that has further spawned serious health challenges.
Recall that LEADERSHIP recently did a heartbreaking report on the plight of the IDPs after a visit to the very deplorable camp, located along the popular Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University, Màkurdi road, where it was evident that food shortage-acute hunger, poor shelter and absence of basic medical facilities represents the major problems confronting the internally displaced persons.
Sadly, this camp is located in Benue State known as the food basket of the nation. “For people who were earning their living through farming and making the State proud as the food basket of the nation, to be confined in one place like animals is devastating. It is clearly written on their faces”
Disturbingly, upon investigation, LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered that over 200 IDPs down with malaria, cough , diarrhea, among other skin diseases. The IDPs who looked malnourished appealed.
Narrating their ordeals, some of the IDPs who spoke to our correspondent said, “ We are suffering . in fact, we are facing hard times due to acute shortage of food, relief materials, appropriate shelter and medical facilities. They said although Governor Samuel Ortom visited them with some supplies, they were grossly inadequate to cater for all the IDPs in the camp.
They even pointed out to some critically-ill patients in the camp who need urgent medical attention but have been neglected. We are badly depressed and cannot continue to wait for death. A middle aged man, Mr, Tsarver had this to say; “ Am shocked that as IDPs, we are more disadvantaged than refugees because we do not benefit from assistance provided by international agencies unless the national government requests for such assistance. The way and manner IDPs live their life is somewhat worrisome. Yet, the society does not recognise the fact that the internally displaced persons once had a dream.’’
Look at the women and children, their situation is worsened because it is a case of double jeopardy as the farmers/herders clashes has further turned life into a ‘living hell’ for them because crimes are committed against their dignity and liberty.
Meanwhile, despite the challenges faced by the Tse- Yandev IDPs, a 35 year old man ,Liamgee Tyar took the advantage of staying in the camp tie the knot with his heartthrob, Lynda.
Narrating how it happened, the 29 -year -old lady woman is heavily pregnant for her husband said they met and fell in love in the camp. Lynda who revealed that she dropped out of secondary school to learn tailoring said, she had since given up her new profession for marriage.
Collaborating what Lynda said, Liamgee, who already had two wives before marring Linda said he loves her more.
Speaking of his other wives, Liamgee said he ran for his life when herdsmen attacked their community (Yelwata) in December, 2020, leaving behind his two wives and three children while he escaped with just one .
At present, Liamgee has no idea whether his first family which he abandoned were alive , hale or hearty as he is unable to reach out to .
The chairman of the Camp, Gabriel Yev, in an interview with our correspondent lamented the absence of government presence in the Camp since its inception in December 15, 2020 which he said has left them at the mercy of the churches and philanthropists.
According to Yev, “a Lagos based NGO few days ago visited the camp and donated the sum of N50,000 for the purchase of malaria drugs which were bought and shared among the IDPs, but due to the huge number of the infected persons the drugs could not go round.
“With the help of the NGO we bought some drugs and started treating those who came down with severe symptoms, but the drugs did not go round because as you can see the IDPs are exposed to mosquitoes and cold, day and night”
He said “we have over 10,000 IDPs from Guma, Màkurdi, Gwer-West, part of Nasarawa and Taraba States which we are still counting because the last tranche of IDPs who arrived the camp recently due to renewed attacks are yet to be profile”
While decrying absence of government presence at the Camp, Mr Yev said, the IDPs are going through a lot of trauma and needed urgent attention in the area of food, health services and shelter.
“As you can see, the IDPs here are staying in the make-shift tents and this has brought a lot of health hazards for them especially when it is raining.
“We heard that the governor has given approval for this camp to be properly registered and taken care of, but we are yet to feel the Impact, any time it is about to rain, I will start evacuating the IDPs especially the elderly, children and pregnant women to uncompleted buildings around here because they can’t stay in this make-shift tent when it is raining, so we are calling on the government, NGOs and all well meaning Nigerians to come to our aid”
He maintain that, for those who are much younger, when it is raining, they remain standing anywhere they find a place till the rain is over, this is the situation we have found ourselves”
While commending Doctors Without Borders for providing portable water as well as building toilets and bathrooms to stem the outbreak of diseases in the Camp, the chairman also called on government to beef up security in their localities to enable them go back to their ancestral homes.
Mbamlya, an indigene of Aninge, a border town between Benue and Nasarawa State said , she lost her husband during the herdsmen attack
Another IDP, Yanguchan, a mother of seven and a window, said she can’t wait to go back to her ancestral home to continue with farming activities in order to cater for her children.
She said, ‘Its not easy for one who has been feeding herself and her family to suddenly become a beggar in a confined environment like an animal,, we are here at the mercy of NGOs, churches and other bodies.
Giving the statistics of IDPs currently staying in the camp, Yev disclosed that the initial number of IDPs in the Camp was10,102 but added that r due to the recent attacks the number has increased to 10,407.
According to him, the number of households have also, increased from the initial 5,249 to 5,384.
Mr. Yev further said the total male population in the Camp is 3,457 while that of the female is 6,645, maintaining that in the last one month, 305 IDPs who are yet to be profile arrive the camp.
Governor Samuel Ortom recently lamented that the continued attacks and displacement of Benue farmers from their ancestral homes have made it so difficult for the state to close the camps because in most communities, the herdsmen some herdsmen have also invaded their homes..
While lamenting that the inability of the federal government to redeem its promised to reconstruct , rehabilitate and resettle the IDPs has further placed a burden on his government. He accused the presidency of neglecting Benue IDPs and only focusing on the North- East.
“All we hear in the news is the Northeast. What is the population of IDPs in the Northeast? What we have in Benue State on account of the ceaseless attacks on the farming communities is worst than the Northeast”
“The Humanitarian crises in Benue has overwhelmed the state government because every Month, we are spending over N100,000 million just on food and non- food material for the IDPs”
“Apart from the IDPs, we have over 10,000 Cameroonians refugees in Kwande LG which are also being supported by the State Government and when you add this to over 1.5million IDPs, it is a huge burden that is overwhelming”
“What Benue is experiencing here is a collosal humanitarian and developmental crisis because our roads, bridges, markets, churches, schools and homes have been destroyed, and in most communities, these herdsmen are occupying the homes of the Displaced Persons”