Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, has appealed to state governments not to force Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) back to their homes. He said this against the backdrop of the insurgency-ravaged Borno State. Kallon specifically appealed to authorities in the North East states not to force IDPs home, with attacks on some communities, by Boko Haram fueling new displacement of persons in Borno. Borno’s State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) disclosed this, yesterday. SEMA Executive Chairperson, Hajiya Yabawa Kolo, told journalists at the sideline of a forum to mark the World Refugees Day at the United Nations House in Maiduguri, the state capital yesterday. She said that more people were fleeing their homes as Boko Haram attacks vulnerable communities, a development which pushed up the number of displacement.
“We have more displacement and it is expected that this displacement will bring new challenge of shelter, food distribution and sanitation,” Kolo said. The SEMA boss added that the agency had however made efforts to decongest Internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps by opening a new camp.
“The overall growth in mass displacement has continued to exceed the rate at which solutions are being found,” Kolo said the best solution to addressing challenges at the camps was voluntary returns of the refugees and IDPs to their homes. She assured that the government would abide by the Kampala agreement on voluntary and safe return of the displaced persons to their homes. She said the theme of this year; Refugees Day: Take A Step, was apt as the Borno state government has already taken a step by commencing the rebuilding of destroyed houses and public facilities to facilitate conducive return of the IDPs and refugees. Earlier, Kallon said government ought to provide basic necessities of life including shelters, water, food and security before people were returned homes.
“I know people are desperate, they want to go home but they must go in dignity, at their will. Government should allow people to go on their own. They must not be forced to leave the camps, “ he warned. Kallon, who said refugees and IDPs were parts of humanity who needed to be protracted. adding that government should work on the development of the area affected by insurgency. He identified development deficit as responsible for the birth and escalation of insurgency in the northeast. The UN official said while the military counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism may work substantially in taming the violent group, a political solution was also desirable. He urged the authority to approach the crisis wholistically to bring it to an end. About 20, 000 people have been killed and 3 million displaced since July 2009; when the Boko Haram insurgency started.