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World Refugee Day The Nigerian IDP is a criminal guilty of inconvenience

Since Boko Haram started its insurgency, the population of Nigerians that have been rendered homeless has soared to well over 2 million.

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On January 17, 2017, the Nigerian Air Force acted on bad intelligence and bombed a camp filled with internally displaced people (IDP) in Rann, Borno state, killing 112 and leaving 97 injured.

Official reprimand from the military for the unfortunate incident was blamed on "fog of war".

In the state the country is in, the military could just as well have said, "Oops, spilt milk. Sorry. LOL", and it’d still get away with murder, like it has.

Steve Harvey play "Like, really you guys, stuff happens." (Pinterest)

 

Since Boko Haram started its mindless insurgency in the north eastern region of the country, the population of people that have been rendered homeless has soared to well over two million.

That's over two million Nigerians who are absolutely at the mercy of the Nigerian state to be largely responsible for them; for the safety of their lives and for basic sustenance.

That's over two million Nigerians who have to live with the heartache of the frustration and disappointment that naive optimism causes them every day.

A woman reflects while feeding her baby at a registration centre in Geidam stadium, Yobe state, May 6, 2015 play

A woman reflects while feeding her baby at a registration centre in Geidam stadium, Yobe state, May 6, 2015

(Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

 

Fed up with their poor living conditions, IDPs in Maiduguri staged a protest against camp officials in August 2016, mounting barricades of stones, sticks and tires along the Kano-Maiduguri highway.

Speaking at the protest, Maimuna Bukar, a mother of four, said, "We are not fighting with government; all we want is food to feed our family. If they can't give us food, let them let us go back to our villages instead of being left to be killed by hunger here."

Allegations of fraudulent stealing of essential relief materials meant to sustain IDPs have been commonplace for a while now; but with the way Nigeria works, this is not nearly shocking enough. It's just something to fill the news cycle for a couple of days before everyone moves on to the next distraction.

Dino Melaye does the Ajekun Iya dance play Like...this one (YNaija )

 

The rate at which irresponsible and/or criminal conduct by public office holders has become tolerable and nearly accepted as the norm in Nigeria is, for lack of a better word, disturbing.

This is why any time there's a public outrage at whatever is the new subject, the outrage is tinged with the realization that it’ll most likely never yield to anything meaningful.

This is to the detriment of the IDP population in the country who have been deprived of the basic human rights the constitution of the country affords them.

Not only are they being denied of sufficient basic supplies, they have also been subjected to widespread inhumane sexual abuse, especially of women and children, in the cruel hands of some security officers and government officials.

IDPs say soldiers raped them but they were forced to deny it play

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)

(Today)

Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report in July 2016 documenting many cases of women and underage girls being sexually assaulted in seven different camps in Maiduguri.

One of the victims, a 17-year-old girl, was raped by a policeman, and according to her, he threatened to kill her when she told him she was pregnant.

Another 16-year-old girl from Baga that spoke to HRW said she was drugged and raped by a vigilante group member after she rejected his sexual advances. Months later when she gave birth to his baby, he ran away from the camp.

Their stories almost match with that of several other women who were taken advantage of by authority figures and abandoned to their fates afterwards, even worse off than when they ran to the camps for sanctuary.

Most of the victims were exploited with promises of food or other basic necessities in exchange for sex.

NPC says IDPs increased by 4.5% as at January play

An IDP camp in Maiduguri, Borno state

(The Sheet)

 

These men used the undue influence of their positions to prey on vulnerable women and children who were placed in their care, and there’s no reason to believe this practice has stopped.

Another 32-year-old woman speaking about life in one of the camps said, "Life is terrible here in this camp. For the past three days we have not eaten because there is no firewood to cook the food.

"To make it worse, they will not even allow us to go out to fend for ourselves. Most times you have to beg the camp officials to intervene with the guards before they will give you the pass to go out.

"Why will you refuse if any of those people ask you for marriage? You have to survive."

After a visit to IDP camps in August last year, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of internally displaced persons, Chaloka Beyani, was deeply concerned about the government's "tendency to downplay the problem of sexual violence and abuse" of refugees.

In his words, "Food is scarce and many survive on one basic meal per day, while medical care is insufficient.

"Civilians also require urgent protection, psychosocial support and counselling. Camps should offer protection.

"Yet I am alarmed to learn that many are in fact exploiting and abusing the most vulnerable.

"Reports indicate that women and girls face demands for sex to access food or to leave the camps.

"Early pregnancy and marriage are commonplace while many do not report abuse due to stigmatisation, cultural factors and the knowledge that perpetrators can abuse with impunity."

Much like anything that happens in the country, the distasteful allegations of the sexual misconducts in IDP camps have deadlocked at the "We will surely investigate this matter" phase.

A child suffering from malnutrition in an IDP camp in Borno play

A child suffering from malnutrition in an IDP camp in Borno

(Today)

 

Environmental hygiene is a myth in IDP camps as many of them are overcrowded and alarmingly short on amenities,  especially water. This endangers their health in unimaginable ways especially since they don’t have proper access to health care.

At some point, the Borno State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) instructed hospitals to take care of IDPs that possessed the proper permits, but because the hospitals were never duly compensated, this never really happened, depriving refugees of adequate health care that they so desperately need.

Despite the billions that have been funnelled into taking care of the IDPs, by the government, national and international donors, the most significant outcome has been high resolution pictures of their poor living conditions and photo-staged interventions for the most part.

An even more underrepresented demographic of IDPs in the country is those displaced by natural disasters or by communal clashes.

They make up an estimated 15% of Nigeria’s IDP population, and they get even less attention if they are not sharing the same camp with Boko Haram IDPs.

Causes of internal displacement in Nigeria between 2013 to 2014 play

Causes of internal displacement in Nigeria between 2013 to 2014

(IDMC)

 

I’ve been to one of these camps before with my colleagues as members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in 2015.

The refugees had fled their homes to escape one of the numerous ethnic clashes that happen quite often in Taraba state and had been living in the town for a while.

The makeshift camp in Donga was a government-owned primary school whose students had been temporarily moved to another location for the duration of the refugees' indefinite stay.

When we visited the camp, they welcomed us with tales of woes about how they had been left on their own since they were moved to the camp.

Resources had run dry for months and no authority was taking control of the situation to make their lives any bearable.

Ironically, despite that they were housed in an education facility, the children had not been in a classroom to get any proper formal education in the time they’d been there.

This is why it was no surprise half of the children population couldn't answer the question, "What is the name of your country?" when they were asked.

Children at an IDP camp in Yola play

Children at an IDP camp in Yola

(VOA)

 

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While trying to help get the attention of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)  to the plight of the camp, the intervention was tangled up when a desk officer of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) turned up with inflated figures that stalled the process until the refugees were soon back in their communities by Christmas.

Last week, the Federal Government had to apologise to the Saudi Arabian government because some of the 200 tons of dates that the kingdom had sent to Nigeria especially for the IDPs in celebration of the Ramadan period had been seen being sold in some markets in Abuja.

It is yet another deplorable exploitation of the situation of people who are already down on their luck and need all the help they can get.

While decent people see IDPs as vulnerable people to be protected and cared for, other people with dubious intents see cash cows that they can milk dry to maintain their own privileged lives.

Customs distributes rice worth N3.79bn to displaced persons in Northeast play

Food aid being distributed to internally displaced people (IDPs) in Banki IDP camp, Borno state, northeast Nigeria

(UNICEF)

 

They see millions that's only best spent in their pockets; they see food that's only best commercialised and used as ransom to have sex with disadvantaged women and children.

You have to wonder what goes through the head of people like this who think of making extra illicit profits at the expense of people whose lives have been stalled by crises they are merely unfortunate to be caught up in.

How does it not make your insides crawl with disgust digging holes for people who are already down?

A young girl at an IDP camp in Riyom Local Government Area in Plateau state play

A young girl at an IDP camp in Riyom Local Government Area in Plateau state

(Bella Naija)

 

The government does not help the situation with its muted attitude towards seriously investigating and taking serious actions against these animals.

This is either because the government is incapable of doing this, or it is too unwilling to go to the trouble.

In any case, this only leaves room for one suitable theory: IDPs are criminals unworthy of basic human rights.

A refugee problem is one that the government would no doubt wish it doesn't have to deal with, but since it's a necessity, the Nigerian government has largely condemned its IDP population to a life of unending agony because they are nothing but an inconvenience.

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