Over 350, 000 Borno IDPs refuse to return to liberated communities

IDPs’ camp. PHOTO: hrw.org

The Borno State Government yesterday called on Nigerian Peace Corps (NPC), National Orientation Agency (NOA) and the media to sensitise Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in camps to return to liberated communities and pick up their lives.

Making the appeal in Maiduguri to mark state council of Nigerian Journalists (NUJ) Press Week, Commissioner for Local Government and Emirate Affairs, Usman Zannah, said despite the liberation of several communities by the military for the safe return of displaced persons, over 350, 000 of them still remained in Maiduguri resettlement camps.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, also yesterday lamented that the IDPs were still in the camps, despite the liberation of over a dozen communities in the state.

He said: “The most important thing for the military is to ensure that all displaced persons return to their towns and villages after the military has cleared and liberated most of them across the state.

“But I wonder why the IDPs are still living in camps of Maiduguri metropolis.”

While flagging off the Medical Outreach of Nigerian Army at the NYSC Orientation (IDPs) camp on Damboa road on Thursday, Buratai queried their overstay at the camps.

The NYSC orientation camp had been resettling 17, 678 Boko Haram victims sacked from Damboa and Gwoza Councils.

Speaking IDPs’ continued stay in the camps, Zannah said: “Regarding the displaced persons, we are also surprised to see that when you are having over 200 people in Damboa and you are having 400, 000 IDPs in Monguno, but many displaced persons are still living in camps of Maiduguri.

“The Kampala Convention says that we cannot force an IDP to go back. So, the Borno State Government and its humanitarian agency are complying with convention on voluntary returns of people.

“Yesterday, I also paid a courtesy call on NPC members I asked them and NOA to go into the camps and sensitise the IDPs to go back to their towns and village and pick up their lives.”

He continued: “The people of Damasak, Gambouru/Ngala, Mafa, Dikwa and Monguno have voluntarily returned. Why should we be keeping 3, 000 or 4, 000 people in the camps, while other people in the local government areas are picking up their lives?”

He urged the media and other sensitisation agencies to assist government to sensitise the remaining IDPs in camps on the need for them to return to liberated and secured communities.

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