Monday, 21 November 2016

Benue Commissions Facilities For IDPs

Out of a total number of more than Two Million Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in Nigeria for the current year, about 30,000 of them are from Benue State, making the State the number one victim outside the North-east of the country.

This was disclosed recently by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms Angele Dikongue- Atangana, in Makurdi.

The High Commissioner made the disclosure at the commissioning and handing over of facilities, the Daudu Shelter Project for refugees in Guma Local Government of the state. Giving details of the latest Displacement tracking Matrix report of August 2016, she said the people were displaced as result of constant attacks by herdsmen. Even at that, she revealed that the figure is a drastic reduction from the over 100,000 of April this year.

“Taking an average of monthly displacement from April to August 2016, outside of the North East of Nigeria, Benue has the highest numbers of IDPs in Nigeria. 12 out of 23 LGAs in the state had suffered or are suffering from varying impacts of displacement”, she stressed.

Dwelling on the situation in Benue, Atangana said available records indicate that from 2013 to August 2016 alone, Benue experienced at least 60-65 militant herdsmen attacks. She said the situation is quite alarming and that within 2016 Agatu LGA recorded an estimated number of 220-330 deaths from these attacks.

She stressed that UNHCR has been directly involved with Benue state since 2007 when Cameroonian Refugees were settled at Ityav in Kwande LGA, they assisted in the successful repatriation of over 600 back home.

The High Commissioner explained that one of the cardinal objectives of providing these shelters is the consideration for the introduction of agro and aqua skills acquisition and practice that will strengthen livelihood support within the shelter setting and when reintegrated back into the society they are coming from.

In his response, the state Governor Samuel Ortom, who was represented by his Deputy, Engineer Benson Abounu thanked the UN High Commissioner and expressed the readiness of Benue State Government to continue its partnership with UNHCR and other UN agencies in Nigeria for the realization of actualising the “Songhai project initiative” which had already been proposed by UNHCR.

Ortom revealed that current empirical information on the losses in food, human lives and property of IDPs and affected communities appears quite challenging but assured that his government will continue to do all within its reach to secure the people and improve their welfare.

He said, “But beyond that, the state government wishes to see the UN system assist her in building institutional data gathering and management systems for their collective vision for a new Benue. Shelter remains at the core of the basic needs of man, and to lose one is really an affront on one’s dignity and self-esteem”.

The governor commended UNHCR for its commitment to alleviating the suffering of the IDPs in the state, and urged the agency to assist the state government to replicate the project in other parts of the state.

He said that the government had activated discussions to factor the IDPs within the social investment scheme, especially the component on cash vouchering for indigent ones.

Ortom called on the Federal Government to consider including Benue on the list of presidential and humanitarian interventions in the North-East, he said it is in view of the relationship of the crises in Benue and that of the North-East, which are all insurgency related. He therefore earnestly urged the Federal Government to come to the aid of the state in solving the humanitarian crisis and making life better for the people.

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