By Francis Sardauna in Katsina
The Katsina State government is partnering with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to rehabilitate and provide support for victims of banditry and other heinous crimes in the state.
The partnership is in response to the humanitarian emergency needs in the North-west orchestrated by bandits in frontline states of the region.
The UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, Kano Field Office, Elhadji Issakha Diop, disclosed this on Wednesday, when he led other members of staff of the organisation on an advocacy visit to Governor Aminu Bello Masari in Katsina.
Diop said the organisation would visit the frontline local government areas in the state to ascertain the population and humanitarian needs of the victims in order to rehabilitate them and address their needs.
According to him, “Our main mandate is to make sure we safeguard and protect the rights of Nigerian children. It is very important that we have a good idea of the most affected areas in the state.
“We also want to have an idea of the number of internally displaced persons who are at high level of need so that we can mitigate and address those needs.”
He, however, explained that people are more familiar with the physical consequences caused by conflicts but often ignore the invisible impact on mental health which is equally as dangerous and needs to be tackled.
Responding, Governor Masari represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Mustapha Inuwa, said the state was experiencing relative peace as a result of the rapprochement between government and the bandits.
He said: “But one fundamental problem that needs to be addressed is the aftermath of the peace deal. Many of them (bandits) need rehabilitation, not only the repentant bandits but including farmers.
“Quite a number of them lost their means of livelihood and many of their breadwinners were killed; there houses and properties were destroyed. So, government is very much interested in any organisation that is ready to partner with her to rehabilitate the victims.”
He affirmed that the resources available are not enough to cater for the demands of the people affected, adding that there are other pressing issues such as provision of schools, hospitals and construction of roads for rural dwellers to be addressed by the state government.