Zulum Meets Foreign NGOs, CSOs, Explains Why IDP Camps are Closed down

Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri

Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, has met with international and local non-governmental organisations (iNGO), as well as civil society organisations to explain the decision of his administration to close down internally displaced persons (IDP) camps and placed restrictions on food aids in resettled communities.

The meeting was held on the heels of Zulum’s release of billions of naira, which was distributed to 115,000 safely resettled IDPs in 11 communities.

In the disbursement, each household made up of a husband, wife, and a few children was given N200,000, while widows were given N150,000 each with large quantum of food, as an intervention meant for IDPs who have been given newly built houses and reconstructed homes to use as means of livelihoods through the operation of small businesses.

A committee was also set up to regularly monitor their progresses, as food aid intervention deployed where the need arises.

Zulum, according to his aides, had wanted the resettled IDPs to be supported in growing businesses as sustainable means of livelihoods, rather than lining them up every day and taking their pictures during distribution of food rations.

During his meeting with the iNGOs, which include the United Nations representatives, which was facilitated by the Borno State Agency for Coordination of Sustainable Development and Humanitarian Response (BACSDAHR), an agency which coordinates and monitors the activities of all humanitarian and developmental partners, including international and national non-governmental organisations (iNGOs/NNGOs) and civil society/community-based organisations (CSOs/CBOs) operating in the state, the governor expressed gratitude to the partners.

He said: “You are all aware of the (horrible) situation in the IDP camps, and the conditions of the people in these IDP camps in the state, the menace of increasing drug abuse, prostitution, gender-based violence (GBV), increased risk of epidemics like cholera and meningitis, as well as increased risk of COVID 19. You are all aware that Muna camp, for example, is adjudged to be one of the worst camps in the world.

“In terms of amenities, it is a camp where many of you would not want to keep your dogs or pigs.”

He added that in the state, “people living in IDP camps are tired, and many decided that they wanted to go back to their communities. For example, people from Nganzai decided to move by themselves; the people from Damasak moved from the camps in Niger Republic by themselves, and we were told with facts that some people were determined to go back and restart their lives with or without the government.”

Zulum said: “In line with the Borno State Resettlement Plan, and the Return Strategy as agreed by the government and our partners, we set out to voluntarily return and resettle our people where security permits. In the voluntary resettlement and return efforts, we offered three options for our brothers and sisters: ‘People can leave the camp and go into Maiduguri township, and we give them money to rent a house for a year in addition to food that will last them about three months. They can enroll for our SME micro credit grant programme for SMEs.

‘The people can leave the camp, and safely go back to the newly built houses in their council headquarters or villages, where the military has given us security clearance, and other civil security agencies are deployed.

“Also, the people can choose to remain in an IDP camp in which case, we move them to another camp and merged them to give way to the return of public services. In some of these camps such as the Mohammed Goni College of Legal and Islamic Studies (Mongolis), the camp resumed to its original function as a school and the NYSC camp returned to its National Youth Service camp status’.”

Zulum insisted that: “Camp Merger is an internationally recognised practice.”

The governor, however, allowed humanitarian workers to continue supporting IDPs in camps still in existence, explaining that restrictions of food aid have been placed in 11 communities which were rebuilt with the involvement of some foreign humanitarian and development partners, including the UN, after the communities were identified as safe for civilian reoccupation.

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