(Voice of the Persecuted) The government of Nigeria is pushing for IDP camps to be closed and the internally displaced returned to villages which many believe to be extremely vulnerable to Boko Haram attacks. For the past 3 years, VOP has been raising the issue that the Boko Haram is better coordinated globally than the media has reported, or the international community wants to admit. They are equally as dangerous and brutal as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. They too are branching out, spreading like cancer to other regions.
During a recent security conference in Germany, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said,
…There are proofs and evidence that (for) some time Boko Haram has been trained in Somalia and they went back to Nigeria,” he said.
“The terrorists are so linked together, they are associated and so organized, (that) we the world we need to be so organized,”
The UNHCR is warning the Nigerian government to listen to the IDP’s. They have suffered unspeakable atrocities at the hands of the Islamic group who is pushing for the implementation of strict Sharia Law throughout the country and beyond.
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria, Feb 23 (UNHCR) – UNHCR’s top protection official, Volker Türk, has called on the Nigerian authorities to heed the concerns of internally displaced people (IDP) in the north-east of the country.
“We all need to listen to the IDPs, their aspirations and sense of dignity and safety,” he stressed during a visit at the weekend to Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, referring to organized returns to areas back under government control but still considered risky.
Earlier this month, suicide bombers killed more than 50 people and injured dozens in attacks on a site holding some 50,000 IDPs at Dikwa in Borno, the state hardest hit by the Boko Haram insurgency.
The UN Refugee Agency has long been unable to visit the Dikwa site for security reasons. Many of the IDPs in Borno come from towns and villages that have been practically razed over the past two years, lacking infrastructure, basic services and security.
Türk, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, arrived in Nigeria last Thursday to review the refugee agency’s emergency operations in the north-east, where UNHCR helps tens of thousands of IDPs located in camps. He has also met Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja and government partners to discuss the challenges and areas of cooperation.
During these meetings, he appealed to the government to take advantage of UNHCR’s experience in voluntary repatriation and to work closely to ensure the welfare of people of concern. The insurgency has affected about 5 million people, including more than 2.2 million Nigerians who are internally displaced and almost 180,000 who have fled to neighbouring countries. Türk offered to help neighbouring countries organize voluntary repatriation where and when the conditions were right.
While encouraging government institutions and civil society organizations to lead the response to forced displacement, he said: “UNHCR, as part of the international community, will continue to support local initiatives.”
The Assistant High Commissioner also met IDPs in Borno and Yola states, listening to harrowing tales of violence and destruction and the continuing suffering and challenges facing people unable to return home. He was deeply moved by their courage and resilience.
At Malkohi, on the outskirts of Yola, capital of Adamawa state, he talked to some of the internally displaced about their concerns and situation. “We want to listen to the people in order to better assist them,” Türk said. Hapsatu Amadu, a 47-year-old community leader, told him they needed clothing, food and shelter. “We are exposed to the vagaries of the weather in these grass thatched huts,” she explained.
UNHCR and its partners have been providing protection, shelter, camp management training and assistance to about 10 per cent of the IDPs in north-east Nigeria, where most of the displaced live with host families. At Bakassi camp in Maiduguri, visited by Türk, UNHCR has built 450 transitional shelters.
But the needs in Borno, including Maiduguri’s 17 organized and 13 informal IDP camps hosting some 125,000 people, are great and increasing. “Borno is the most devastated state; social and health infrastructures are virtually non-existent,” a senior local government official, Alhadji Usman Didda Shua, told Türk. “This state should be treated on the same footing with Syria,” he added of an emergency that is under-reported and under-funded as well as spreading in the region.
In Borno alone, 16 out of 38 hospitals have been destroyed or looted, and 214 primary health care centres shut. Bama was the second largest city in Borno until 2014 with a population of 600,000. Today it lies in ruins and is deserted. State authorities say it will require millions of dollars to reconstruct.
“In each crisis, there is an opportunity, which we need to seize, hopefully in the form of a new social contract,” Türk concluded. He will next visit Cameroon to discuss the situation of Nigerian refugees there and to visit the Minawao refugee camp in the Far North Region before wrapping up his regional visit on Wednesday. By Hanson Tamfu in Maiduguri, Nigeria
Promises have been given, as the government claims the Islamic extremists have ‘technically been defeated. But continued attacks prove their capabilities to infiltrate and slaughter innocents. Many believe the return of IDP’s is a dangerous risk. Based on assessment reports from inside the country, Voice of the Persecuted is in agreement with those who say they are in danger. We do not believe their lives should be used as an experiment to test the ability of the military who has, to this day, been unable to protect them, even in an attack near to their headquarters.
It has been brought to our attention that Christians are being severely discriminated agaist in government and UNHCR camps. Many complain water or food is not shared with them and they are constantly pressured to convert to Islam. Christian women are also preyed upon by Muslim men. Church leaders are now requesting they leave those camps and find ‘Christian camps’. Pastors are requesting our prayers.
Voice of the Persecuted is caring for internal refugees from Christian villages hardest hit by the Boko Haram. It is one of the largest Christian camps in the area with over 400 displaced persons. We’ve been asked if it would be possible to extend the mission to the other camps too. Many children reside at the camp, including those orphaned and woman made widows in the insurgency. Their needs are immense. Please consider supporting this mission to care for those suffering great physical and emotional trauma. VOP is on the ground in Nigeria, GO with us on the mission through your gifts.
We want you to know that even in great hardship, they thank God and feel extremely blessed that He has kept His hand on them. They have been so encouraged and thank God for each one of you who have joined this mission through your support and they keep you in their prayers.
Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.
Everyday, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
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If the Lord is placing it on your heart and you are able, please help us to continue the mission in Nigeria. It will be a long term project.