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Gov’t should address IDPs crisis urgently

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By Mercy Kelani

A comprehensive solution is demanded from the gov’t within a set timeframe.

The dire situation of more than 2.3 million individuals stuck in internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps nationwide due to factors like violence, instability, poverty, and weak governance is alarming. Urgent steps need to be taken by the Federal Government to address this pressing issue and ensure the well-being of vulnerable women, men, and children in these difficult circumstances. The situation demands a comprehensive solution from the government within a set timeframe. Laurent de Boeck, the Chief of Mission in Nigeria for the International Organisation of Migration, emphasized the critical nature of the current situation.

He stated that the movement of millions of individuals is exacerbating climate change and environmental deterioration in the North-East region. The North-East has been plagued by a jihadist insurgency for more than 13 years, resulting in the displacement of approximately 4.5 million individuals. In 2015, a second wave of displacement occurred when the military transported civilians from areas controlled by Boko Haram to urban areas. Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, accommodated over 500,000 of the 1.8 million IDPs.

Displacement in Nigeria is caused by environmental factors.

However, a large portion of the population migrated to different cities and makeshift communities, while around 230,000 individuals, as per the highest estimation, resided in government-established camps for an extended period, with support from federal authorities, donor nations, UN organizations, and global NGOs. Borno State has been actively relocating civilians displaced by years of conflict, but the closure of IDP camps in Maiduguri has led to a dangerous situation where people are moving to unsafe areas. Recently, in March, approximately 300 IDPs were abducted by Islamists while gathering firewood in the Gamborou-Ngala Local Government Area.

Various factors in Nigeria contribute to forced displacement, such as ethnic and religious conflicts, attacks on farmers by Fulani herders, and clashes in the Niger Delta. The Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East and communal violence in the Middle Belt have also played a role in the widespread displacement of people. The 2019 floods led to 157,000 people being forced to leave their homes. This ongoing issue of displacement in Nigeria requires effective solutions to help those affected. Displacement in Nigeria is caused by environmental factors like desertification, deforestation, flooding, and erosion.

Improved data and evidence on effective solutions are essential.

Climate change further complicates the situation by displacing communities that depend on farming and fishing. A breeding ground for conflict and displacement is formed by the presence of political unrest, corruption, ineffective governance, and absence of legal enforcement. Displacement worsens due to government authorities’ failure to properly address concerns and safeguard civilians. When displacement occurs, it tends to result in a clustering of individuals in particular regions, causing strain on resources like land, water, and forests. In a recent report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), it was revealed that internal displacement had a significant economic impact worldwide in 2017, totalling around $13 billion.

Sub-Saharan Africa specifically incurred costs of approximately $4 billion in 2018. Nigeria alone suffered an economic loss of $818 million in 2019, equivalent to 0.20% of its GDP. Assisting internally displaced persons with returning to their homes, integrating into local communities, or resettling elsewhere within their countries is crucial. Improved data and evidence on effective solutions are essential for developing personalized strategies to address and ultimately prevent displacement. In 2024, the Federal Government has dedicated ₦3 trillion towards the construction of one million resettlement homes.

Related Article: FG Budgets ₦3T for IDPs, Refugees’ Housing

It is imperative that the project is executed effectively as part of a comprehensive strategy to resettle and rehabilitate displaced individuals. Solving the issue of IDPs involves a collaborative effort among government, NGOs, local residents, and global allies. Sustainable resolutions must address the underlying sources of conflict, encourage harmony, bolster leadership and legal systems, better socio-economic status, and build resistance to environmental difficulties. Nigeria can successfully address the IDP crisis and facilitate the sustainable reintegration of displaced populations by implementing a holistic strategy that includes humanitarian aid, conflict mediation, community involvement, and strategic long-term development plans.

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