From Benjamin Babine, Abuja
The Public Service International (PSI) has called on the government, both Federal and State, to provide a sustainable means of access to quality public healthcare services for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) across Nigeria.
The PSI, a global union federation for workers in public services, said most of the healthcare services provided at IDP camps are donor-driven, a situation that is not sustainable, the organisation says. They stressed that the lack of access to quality public services especially healthcare for IDPs is a breach of their fundamental human rights.
The PSI is also collaborating with the National Commission for Migrants Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFMRI) to push for the domestication of the Kampala Convention on IDPs in Nigeria. The global body said it hopes the NCFMRI bill will be passed into law in 2021.
Speaking to journalists in Abuja during an advocacy meeting on promoting the human rights of IDPs to public health services in the era of COVID-19, the PSI project coordinator in English Speaking West Africa, Moradeke Abiodun-Badru, said the plight of the IDPs also worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said the PSI and its affiliates are intensifying their advocacy to draw attention to the plights of the IDPs as well as public service providers in conflict zones.
‘We have done our mapping and discovered that these group of citizens, though they are rightful citizens of the country, are deprived of the opportunity to have access to healthcare. most of the healthcare services provided at IDP camps are donor-driven which is not sustainable. We are advocating the government to provide sustainable means of access to quality public healthcare services for the IDPs,’ she said.
‘We are also looking at the nexus of the rights of frontline actors in an emergency situation. The healthcare and social service workers who are on daily basis risking their lives especially in the conflict zones around the country. we have lost several of our members in active service in the course of providing services to these underprivileged citizens in the country. We think it is high time that the unions demand decent work and social protection which are fundamental basic rights for frontline actors – healthcare workers in the frontline.
‘Now, with the nexus of COVID-9, it is double pandemic for the IDPs. the pandemic of being displaced and living in an environment where you have to struggle for limited access to any services and for the fact that COVID-19 is staring the whole world in the face and everybody is aware that the infection is very fatal if care is not taken. For us, it is important that we amplify the voices of the people in the IDP camps especially for women and children who are at the receiving end of inadequate or lack of access to quality public services.’
Also speaking, a senior protection officer at the National Commission for Migrants, Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFMRI), Nwachukwu Chinwe Vivian, said upholding the human rights of the IDPs is central to the agenda of the NCFRMI.
According to her, the conference has also exposed her further to the plight of health workers in the IDPs and the need for them to get more protection while providing services in the conflict zones.
On what the Commission has done to ameliorate the suffering of the IDPs during COVID-19, she said, ‘during the COVID-19 period we adopted a holistic approach which is centred on empowerment. For example, we trained some IDP women in camps to make face masks and hand sanitizer which they can also sell to make money for themselves. We have also been giving out relief materials – food and non-food items so as to cushion to measures taken by the Federal Government to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 which as also affected their livelihood because during the lockdown they going go out. and also health interventions. we have been able to give them health supplies to the IDP camps. We also stepped up sensitisation efforts.’
Also speaking to journalists, the General Secretary National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Thomas Shettima said the event was to draw attention to the condition of IDPs.
He said, ‘we have to show concern and bring to the fore the condition of the IDPs and try to find solutions to them. The PSI is an international agency that is helping us to draw attention to the plight of IDPs in terms of what they lack, including the condition that those social workers working in those camps find themselves.’