Taraba: ‘We Need Antiretrovirals, Urgent Govt Intervention’

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Displaced persons at one of the camps in Taraba State PHOTOS: CHARLES AKPEJI

FROM Jalingo, the capital of Taraba State, to Gassol and Bali local government councils of the state, the story of people in camps for the displaced is saddening.

While some of the IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) came from Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, following attacks by Boko Haram insurgents, others were forced to flee their homes in Taraba due to onslaught by herdsmen.

Apart from poor sanitary conditions, which have often led to outbreak of diseases, the failure of past governments to adequately care for the displaced has led to rise in the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the state. Before now, the rate was pegged at 5.8 per cent, but as at the time of filing this report, it has spiked to 10.5 per cent, making Taraba one of the leading HIV/AIDS states in the country.

People who bared their minds to the reporter in some of the camps blamed spread of the disease on refusal by the state government to make HIV/AIDS services available in the camps. One of the People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHIV) said, “for the past nine months that some of us have been here, no single help has come from the government on how we can access drugs.”

According to him, the crisis, which forced them to take refuge in the camps, “has made it impossible to visit HIV/AIDS facilities nearby because of killings going on silently in the villages.”

In spite of government’s claim that it has restored peace in crisis prone areas, killings and maiming are reportedly being carried out in several places.

According to the leadership of the Tiv Youth Frontier Group, at its last count, about 25 persons of Tiv extraction were murdered by herdsmen, while several others sustained injuries.

Chairman of the group, Goodman Dan-Dahida, said he was sad that the past government did nothing to ameliorate the plight of people in the camps. He lamented the outbreak of diseases resulting in deaths, and the spread of mother-child transmission of HIV.

Unless the situation is addresses urgently, he said, visitors could soon be led into thinking that all Taraba residents are carriers of the virus.

“We are willing to go back to our homes and continue with our occupation, which is farming. Is it good that some of us, especially our children, now take to the streets to beg alms before we can feed?” asked Tekura, who is in his 60s. “No Tiv person is lazy.

We work hard to earn our living. We don’t like depending on people. But since we came here, the reverse has been the case.

I must confess to you that we are not pleased with the last government because they did not care whether we are alive or not,” said Tekura, expressing optimism that the new administration of Governor Darius Ishaku would bring smiles to their faces.

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Displaced persons at one of the camps in Taraba State PHOTOS: CHARLES AKPEJI

One displaced person, Buba, said: “We will continue to be patient and endure whatever negative treatments we are receiving. I know that things will not continue like this because of the move we have seen made by President Muhammadu Buhari.”

Narrating how his wife and two children were killed in an explosion in Mubi, Adamawa state, he said returning home without adequate security makes no sense.” He urged Buhari not to spare the insurgents “because they are very heartless.

Every time we pray in this camp, we pray for the President to succeed in bringing the insurgents to their knees. And I believe that Allah will surely hear our cry because we are innocent.”

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