IDPs, humanitarian tragedy of immense proportion – Ezekwesili

The convener made this known while marking the Global Week of Action to mark 1,000 days of the abduction of Chibok Girls in their school on April 14, 2014

The Convener of Bring Back Our Girls Group, Oby Ezekwesili, on Tuesday described the condition of Internally Displaced Persons as a humanitarian tragedy of immense proportion.
The convener made this known while marking the Global Week of Action to mark 1,000 days of the abduction of Chibok Girls in their school on April 14, 2014.
Ezekwesili said: “Our Chibok girls are themselves IDPs wherever they may be.
“In further assessing the crisis, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that the crisis, coming into its eight year, shows no sign of abating and is adding to the long history of marginalisation and chronic under-development as well as a higher rate of poverty and illiteracy.
“These have been further confirmed by members of the BBOG group, some of whom are family members of IDPs, and some working in alleviating their plights.”
Ezekwesili said shortly after the movement began on April 30, 2014, the group took up the issue of IDPs and had the first symbolic visits to IDP camps around Abuja with modest humanitarian support within our means.
Ezekwesili said the group had continually highlighted their plight, but unfortunately little or nothing had improved in terms of welfare and well-being.
She said: “The IDP population in Nigeria, those in formal camps, is officially estimated by the National Emergency Management Agency to be two million.
“The vast majority of IDPs, accounting for up to 90 per cent of the entire IDP population are in informal settlements and host communities, most of which are not government-recognised, as a result, they are mainly catered to by the NGO and international humanitarian agencies.”
Ezekwesili said many were trapped in territories the government had declared free from the insurgents and habitable for normal life.
She said places like Gwoza, Bama, Dikwa, Monguno and others are only accessible via military escort.
Ezekwesili said others were completely cut off, saying IDPs are dying of hunger and starvation.
She said: “There have been confirmed reports of sexual molestation of IDPs including by military and police personal.
“The authorities claimed that some have been apprehended for these acts and will be duly punished, but the matter has subsequently been swept under the carpet.”
She said the Presidential Committee on North East Initiatives is an institution of the Presidency to, among others, cater to the needs of IDPs, but has left much undone.
Ezekwesili said: “The Borno Ministry of Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Resettlement is currently doing an abysmally poor job.
“Their focus in the so-called rehabilitation has been commercial properties of politically-connected persons, as against looking out for the downtrodden and vulnerable to lift them up back to a normal life.
“There are growing concerns that there are arrangements to source building materials from abroad, in place of sourcing them locally in order to boost business and trade.”
Besides, the convener called for efforts on agricultural plans to engage the IDPs to be productively engaged and to stimulate food production for the next season in the relatively safe recovered areas.