Recently, the Nigerian government aided by the UN provided over 300 housing units for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) of Mafa community in Borno State. The housing units commissioned on October 2022, include a health center, police station and market to sell fattened livestock and restore IDP returnees’ livelihood in the liberated communities of Mafa local council.
However, the Executive Director of Kukah Center, Fr Athanasius Barkindo said about 90 percent of the IDPs refused to return to the resettlement areas for various reasons chiefly – for fear of insecurity, and their lack of confidence in government to provide the necessary security for the safety of their lives and property.
In fact, Barkindo noted that government’s focus on military offensive, ‘reintegration’ of aggressors to the detriment of the IDPs, have triggered several conflicts and humanitarian situations.
Most of the IDPs across the country are reliant on the local and international aid, and with little land to live on, they are unable to integrate or adapt to their new environment and society. Meantime, within and without the camps, the people are divided across religious and ethnic lines.
However, rather than implement the forceful resettlement of IDPs to their communities, authorities, organizations and groups should focus on providing adequate security to help them settle back into their communities; provide psycho-social support especially for women and girls who have suffered abuse, and support them socio-economically to adapt to their present situation.
“No matter how much we preach dialogue, there will be no peace if people/IDPs cannot sustain themselves,” Barkindo said. Via its projects with Hungary, and Germany, Kukah center had worked bypassing the many middle parties to get programmes and relief materials directly to the IDPs, and also visited host communities reaching out directly to unemployed internally displaced persons who fled their communities to stay with their extended family and friends. These demographics they trained on skills as sewing, poultry, fish farming and animal husbandry. An IDP woman trained by the center on fish farming has seen such economic independence that its positively impacted her life and outlook.
Barkindo further suggested as part of solutions for economic recovery of IDPs in camps, the provision of large farming areas, and their education on climate change and practical skills to farm around all season.