As we all know, internally displaced persons (IDPs) is not a name people wake up one day and choose to be addressed as. It is a name brought to unfortunate fellows who are forced to flee or leave their homes or places of habitual residence as a result of war, violence, armed conflict, natural or human made disaster etc.
This is the case we see today in our country Nigeria. Most of our fellow citizens in the North-East have been forced to flee their comfort and beautiful homes due to Boko Haram insurgents that invaded their communities.
Recent research has shown that there are over 4 Million IDPs in Nigeria with more number of children and women. There are human beings like you and I, who were living in harmony with their families, going to church/Mosque, schools, market, farm etc and enjoying their lives. They are now scattered all over the country’s border without a shelter over their heads, with no good water, food or clothes to put on.
They have known hunger and starvation, they have touched pain, they have seen agony, they have lost their self esteem, they have also lost their loved ones, care and their happy homes. Some of them were once millionaires, they used to live in good houses, rode good cars, wear good clothes, eat good food, to mention but a few.
Most of the women among them are now widows, some children are now orphans, some survived men in their midst are left without wives and children. They now live in shanties sewed out of cement bags and also put on rags as clothes. They eat whatever thing they see and this has caused them sickness and they die on a daily basis. What a painful and miserable life!
MAJOR CHALLENGES FACING THE IDPs
- ACUTE MALNUTRITION: This is also one of the Major challenges facing the IDPs. This was stated by the Programme Officer of the Paulash Community Development initiatives, Miss Charity Anaja on the 15th September 2016 on 92:1 Vision fm Abuja on her interview on the topic CHALLENGES AND MALNUTRITION FACING THE IDPS. “When one is not feeding well, it has an effect on one’s health, such as changing the colour of ones hair, eyes and teeth which result to death. This is the case of the IDPs. Some of them also have tiny legs, Charity affirmed.” Charity also stated that the IDPs eat only Carbohydrate. “People only give them one type of food item such as Yam, Rice, Idomie, Garri etc”
- HUNGER AND STARVATION: This is another major challenge facing the IDPs. As we saw on daily trust newspaper on 6th September 2016____ Due to hunger and starvation IDPs of Arabic college camp took to Maiduguri – Jos Road to protest. “I have buried two children here in this camp, it all started two months ago after Ramadan fasting, they were giving us a cup of rice or maize per day, and for a family. How could a cup of rice satisfy a family?” A – 62 years old Mustapha Bulun stated in the paper.
- TRAUMA AND BITTERNESS: They are traumatized and frustrated because of the situation they find themselves. Most of these IDPs live in bitterness due to painful separation from their spouses, families and loved ones. One of the IDPs by name Enoch Haluna who narrated his ordeal to the Abuja charity carnival group on the 27th August, 2016 at Kuchingoro camp expressed his anger over the killings of the members of his family, “I was in my final year in 2013, preparing for my project defense when I came home to discover that all my family members have been killed by Boko Haram. But one thing I know is that God preserves whoever that has a purpose to fulfill here on earth.” There is also a case of a woman who committed suicide due to frustration.
- SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES: This is also another challenge that the IDPs are facing, they have unprotected sex which result to all kinds of STDS like HIV/AIDs, gonorrhea, syphilis e.t.c. They also suffer from hypertension, diabetes and other diseases due to lack of medical health facilities.
- INSECURITY: Their women and girls are been raped on a daily basis which is as a result of insecurity in the camp. Their youth also indulge in hard drug smoking and other criminal activities. If something is not done fast, they will become nuisance thereby causing harm to the society. There are so many other challenges facing the IDs such as lack of good water, good shelter, there is no anti – natal and post – natal care for their pregnant women, they live in shamble and drink sewage water.
THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT
We really commend the present government for their endless effort to providing some basic things. But there are still more to do.
- Government need to provide them with adequate security; make sure that their lives are being secured before sending them back to their homes. Also, the camp they live should be guarded by the security armed forces to make sure that further attack both externally and internally are prevented
- Adequate medical care should be given to them especially to their pregnant, nursing mother and children. Their children should be immunized to avoid been affected by vulnerable diseases.
- The IDPs also need to be empowered; government should provide them with vocational training and skill acquisition so that they don’t stay idle while in camp and also when they will return home.
- The IPDs should not be provided with only carbohydrate food. Well balanced diet should be given to them so that they will not look malnourished
- They also need to be counseled against trauma before sending them back home.
- Good shelter should be provided for them to avoid cold entering their bodies. Also a good source of water should be made available for them.
- While they are still in camp, they need to be educated on pre – marital sex and the danger of unprotected sex to avoid sexually transmitted diseases.
THE ROLES OF INDIVIDUALS
It is not only the responsibility of the government to provide assistance and also alleviate the sufferings of the IDPs in our communities. Their individual also has a role to play;
- Love: The IDPs need to be shown love and care by the individuals because they are human being and fellow citizens, we need to embrace them, go close to them, pray, cry and play with them. Make them feel loved and also give them the sense of belonging
- There is no instance cure to trauma, because they have been traumatized, food, clothing, shelter and money will not magically heal the emotional effects of what they have been through. We need to restore their dignity , they have lost their self esteem, we need to make them regain it by close association, celebrating special days like birthday party’s, children’s day, mother’s day, Christmas and sallah with them. We need to make them happy and regain their consciousness.
- Gifts: We also need to provide them with gifts, like clothes, shoes, food items, toys for the children, cream, perfumes and so on. We should give them not only what we reject and the things we don’t use in our homes but also with good things. We have to sacrifice our money and buy them good gifts.
It is my duty, it is your duty to show our fellow citizens love and put smiles on their faces
Let’s support the Abuja charity carnival group to alleviate the sufferings of the IDPS.
These are some of the pictures of the IDPS and the kind of place they live.
Esther Chidera Isaac is a passionate writer who dedicates her time extending love and supporting the less privileged and needy in Nigeria. She is a member of Abuja Charity Carnival Group, an awareness intervention for the IDPs in Abuja.