Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri
Renewed attacks on some communities by Boko Haram insurgents have fuelled new displacement of persons in Borno, the state emergency management agency (SEMA) has said.
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, Borno State that more people were fleeing their homes as Boko Haram attacks vulnerable communities in the state, 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. She said 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,” she stated. She said the best solution to addressing challenges at the camps was the voluntary return of the refugees and IDPs to their homes. She assured that 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 government had already taken a step by commencing the rebuilding of destroyed houses and public facilities to facilitate conducive return of the IDPs and refugees.
United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, appealed to authorities in the North East not to force IDPs home. He said government ought to provide basic necessities of life including shelters, water, food and security before the people return homes.
“I know people are desperate, they want to go home but they must go in dignity, at their will. The government should allow people to go on their own. They must not be forced to leave the camps,” he warned.
He said refugees and IDPs were parts of humanity who needed to be protected. He said government should work on the development of the area affected by insurgency.
Kallon identified development deficit as responsible for the birth and escalation of insurgency in the North East. He 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 holistically to bring it to an end.
About 20, 000 people have been killed and 3 million displaced since July 2009 when Boko Haram insurgency started.