Edo IDPs: First-Hand Accounts of Life Inside “Needy” Camp in Uhuogua

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By Eben Enasco Kingsley

The sudden origins of the “Mafia-like” Book Haram in Nigeria is obscure, though fearsome Islamic group have been around for decades but seem to have worsened in the last few years.

Founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2002, the group has been led by Abubakar Shekau since 2009. When Boko Haram first formed, their actions were nonviolent.

Arguably, their main objective was to “purify Islam in northern Nigeria”.

Since March 2015, the group have been aligned with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant .

Since the current insurgency started in 2009, Boko Haram has killed tens of thousands and displaced 2.3 million from their homes and was ranked as the world’s deadliest terror group by the Global Terrorism Index in 2015.

After its founding in 2002, Boko Haram’s increasing radicalization led to the suppression operation by the Nigerian military forces and the summary execution of its leader Mohammed Yusuf in July 2009.

Its unexpected resurgence, following a mass prison break in September 2010, was accompanied by increasingly sophisticated attacks, initially against soft targets , but progressing in 2011 to include suicide bombings of police buildings and the United Nations office in Abuja .

The government’s establishment of a state of emergency at the beginning of 2012, extended in the following year to cover the entire northeast of Nigeria, led to an increase in both security force abuses and militant attacks.

According to official report, out of the 2.3 million people displaced by the conflict since May 2013, at least 250,000 have left Nigeria and fled into Cameroon , Chad or Niger and down southern part of the country. Boko Haram killed over 6,600 in 2014 as per record made available.

The group have carried out mass abductions including the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok in April 2014.

Corruption in the security services and human rights abuses committed by them have been alleged to have hampered efforts to counter the unrest.

In mid-2014, the militants gained control of swathes of territory in and around their home state of Borno , estimated at 50,000 square kilometres (20,000 sq mi) in January 2015, but did not capture the state capital, Maiduguri, where the group was originally based.

On 7 March 2015, Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, rebranding as Islamic State in West Africa.

In September 2015, the Director of Information at the Defence Headquarters of Nigeria announced that all Boko Haram camps had been destroyed but attacks from the group continue.

The dreaded group took advantage of the political upheaval and failure of government and came to prominence in the larger part of Good luck Jonathan administration with first major deadly strike in Abuja the Federal capital of Nigeria.

As they grew stronger, they turned against Northern landlords, spread across the tin connection between states with no definite agenda.

They drilled, maimed, raped and killed tens of thousands with others scampering for safety in disperse down southern part of Nigeria.

Homes and caregivers was set in despair living the society brokenhearted by the new masked indigenous force who are determined to waste aborigines and force its own culture in strange settlements.

Each time Boko Haram strikes and takes over communities, majority of those who survive the onslaught head for other parts of the country, perhaps the safest place, with two final destinations in their minds – either the IDP camps or the homes of friends, relatives or willing helpers.

Today, more than half of the IDPs live in host communities outside their homes with government lackluster approach failing continuously.

For some of the survivals, their destination is Edo State where they have been given first hand treatment to at least forget the horrible experience of killings

The International Christian Center has been actively involved in offering settlement for these ones.

The International Christian Centre located in Uhuogua Community is An NGO home established in 1992 and registered with the Edo state Government in 2008 and Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), in 2013 to take care of the needy, Orphans, vulnerable children and children from broken homes

At the last official counts of the displaced persons in Uhuogua, Edo State, the record shows that over 4,500 displaced persons are housed by international Christian center.

Pastor Solomon Folorunso has been largely responsible for the upkeep of the displaced in Uhuogua Community.

Despite his efforts to give these ones a better life with standard education, he has continued to seek support from well meaning individuals, government and international bodies.

Feeding has remained a challenge in the camp as disclosed by coordinator, Pastor Solomon Folorunso

Folorunso in recent appeal, expressed confidence that individuals and corporate organisations ‎wishing to fulfil their corporate social responsibilities should extend their gestures to the internal refugees  by way of helping to build and equip more classrooms for the children as well as providing other educational materials

Evidently, it has accommodated internal refugees from ‎the north-eastern states ravaged by the horrendous activities of the dreaded Islamic insurgents, Boko Haram.

Not many were aware of the existence of the centre until early 2013 when the media learned of the presence of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), from ‎north-eastern states ravaged by the horrendous activities of the dreaded Islamic insurgents, Boko Haram, at the centre and exposed it.

Initially, the centre had a population of about 400 needy children, but with the security challenge in the north-eastern part of the country, occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgents, over 4,500 Internally Displaced Persons(IDPs) from that part, mostly children and women, said to be rescued from the country and neighbouring countries, were sent to the centre through the collaborative work between the centre and some pastors in the north-east.

Since then, individuals and groups from different parts of the country and even foreigners have visited to make donations and give assistance in other forms, including providing educational and medical services at the centre.

Unlike Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) living outside government-controlled camps in other States, who are lamenting ‘months of starvation’ amidst allegations that both the state and federal governments’ relief agencies have ignored them.

The IDPs have also alleged that even non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that used to provide relief services to them have pulled out since January this year.

They said they have made several entreaties to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) as well as its counterpart at the state level but have been ignored as well by these.

However, report has it that the claim was denied by NEMA officials who blamed the plight of the IDPs on lack of “proper coordination amongst humanitarian service providers in the state”.

WHY GOVERNMENT MUST DEEPEN EFFORTS

Government must continue to propagate its corporate social responsibilities to its people irrespective of the situation

Majority of the IDPs find themselves in communities where they are hosted by their relatives or some kindhearted persons who would sometimes give them empty open spaces or uncompleted buildings to raise tents and live within.

Many of the IDPs who worry about self-dignity and seek to maintain a culture of family up brings for their children would rather remain in the host communities than go to the poorly run camps.

But for the Uhuogua camp in Edo State, it is well managed by it Coordinators, and government at all levels, must encourage this feat by providing motorable access roads, basic education, food materials, good shelters and friendly atmosphere.

The Uhuogua community road linking okhun axis in Benin Lagos Road should be addressed to bring relative development.

Although, approximately 80 countries in the international community have joined, making an important step in increasing protection for vulnerable children throughout the world by setting high standards for the displaced.

However, with the help of organizations who set a good example for high-quality vulnerable care (like the Care Centers in China), the institutions built to protect and support them will truly be able to provide life-giving care.

While the plight of the displaced is great, there are major organizations who are working to protect children regardless of their country of origin or economic status.

Major international aid organizations are working directly to uphold the rights of every child and care for those who are most vulnerable, including orphans.

Since governments are much more broad in scope, by partnering with an international aid organization, they can take major strides in understanding the IDPs need in their own domain.

With a platform that reaches nationwide, governments can be the major voice of awareness for the plight of IDPs.

Each country will face unique challenges when it comes to caring for vulnerable children, and it is the government’s role to understand these challenges and educate their citizens on how best to care for children in distress.

The IDPs crisis is not limited to one group or organization. The opportunity to care for orphans is one that can be shared and addressed by each person according to their own unique gifts and strengths. Governments can act as the megaphone for orphan care education.

Through individuals, organizations, and government entities partnering together to care for children in need, we can take major steps toward ending the global crisis.

Government exists to empower each person to fulfill their calling and to care for vulnerable because not everyone can adopt, but everyone can do something!

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