Double ‘Wahala’ for the IDPs

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Hometruths By Adeola Akinremi, Email: adeola.akinremi@thisdaylive.com

It has been several weeks since I wrote about how internally displaced persons have had terrible times in the hands of their managers.

Specifically, starvation and deprivation of dignity have been the sad stories from these Nigerians who didn’t plan to live their lives the way they now live.

For instance, on September 2, I wrote that some foodstuffs meant for the IDPs, and clearly marked Not For Sale were found in the market place.
Now, the recent report of sex for food at some of the camps by the Human Rights Watch should not be treated in isolation.

There’s a bond between my article and the latest report by the Human Rights Watch. I tried to tally up everything and I decided I will have to repeat myself this week.
When I pressed my hands over the lines of testimonies in the HRW report, I reflected on what Ms. Sarah Makka, an international development expert, told me in August.

Ms Makka talked about the difficulty faced by the IDPs in accessing foodstuffs and how their food supply was being sold at different markets by their greedy caregivers.

She then handed me a petition sent to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in July by her group.
The content of the letter which I published before states that: “There have been several allegations of corruption in IDP Camps in relation to distribution of food and supplies.

“For several months, there have been citizens’ reports that food and supplies marked ‘NOT FOR SALE’ or stamped with the logos of various international development agencies are offered as is, or repackaged and sold in markets in Borno State.

“This is clearly unacceptable and urgent attention needs to be given to ensure that supplies meet their intended beneficiaries in good time to meet their needs. If goods clearly marked ‘NOT FOR SALE’ are being sold, what happens to donations by citizens that are unmarked?

“In June 2016, there were reports of trucks of food being diverted from IDP camps. There was also a report of hoodlums taking over a food distribution event in Borno State and stealing bags of rice. Also last month, pictures and a video surfaced online and the report stated that food allocated for IDPs were being re-bagged for resale.

“Furthermore, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in their May 2016 Report, found that cases of ‘sex for food’ by women and girls in government-run camps had increased.
“In January 2016, the Chairman of the House Committee of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Alhaji Sani Zoro (Jigawa, APC), announced that the Committee would investigate allegations of ‘sex for food’ in IDP Camps.

“Despite these allegations, there has been no published report by the Federal Government of the findings of any investigation.”
Makka and her team made passionate appeal to Osinbajo to use his office as the nation’s vice president and chairman of National Emergency Management Authority to act swiftly before things get out of hand.
And now that things have gone out of hand, I see a clear relationship between HRW report and this petition.

In the heart-wrenching report, the HRW said: “In some cases, men used their positions of authority and gifts of desperately needed food or other items to have sex with women. A woman in a Dalori camp said residents get only one meal a day. She said she accepted the advances of a soldier who proposed marriage because she needed help in feeding her four children. He disappeared five months later when she told him she was pregnant.”
Here is the woman’s testimony on sex for food that resonates with what Makka told me about the horrific situation in IDP camps earlier and I believe there’s a way everything adds up.

“The soldier showed his interest by bringing me food and clothes. He used to wear the green army uniform and carried a gun. I accepted him because I needed help to take care of me and my four children. Feeding in the camp is only once a day so you have to accept any help that comes. We started having sex in my camp tent – my sister who was sharing it with me left – or at night in the open field where soldiers stay in the camp. Five months later when I realised I was pregnant and told him, he stopped coming. I have not seen him since then. I feel so ashamed because my neighbours talk and stare at me. I cry whenever I think about him. I delivered the baby two months ago but he is also suffering – I eat once a day so (am) not producing enough milk to breast feed him well. Things are so bad in the camp, there is not enough water or food,” a woman mentioned to HRW

That letter was sent out to Osinbajo by mid- July, but it is not clear whether Osinbajo acted on it just the same the issue was ignored in January this year, when the House of Representatives claimed it will act, but did nothing to investigate the bestial act of rape and starvation at the camps.
Honestly, after surviving the terror and horror of Boko Haram, it is a shame that this kind of story is coming out of the IDP camps. What do you think?