By Ise-Oluwa Ige
WARRIâ€”CHAIRMAN of the Rehabilitation Committee set up by Delta State government to cater for the thousands ofÂ personsÂ that were displaced from their communities in the face off between the Joint Task Force (JTF) on the Niger-Delta and militants in Gbaramatu kingdom, Mr. Kingsley Otuaro, has said that more than 100 communities were dislocated by the crisis.
Briefing newsmen yesterday in Warri on the activities of the committee since it was inaugurated by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, Otuaro said, â€œthe crisis caused a major dislocation of the people in more than one hundred communities that make up the Gbaramatu kingdom. Thousands of people in a twinkle of an eye became homeless, ending up as internally displaced people (IDP).
â€œMany of these people found their way to Warri, some fled to places like Benin and Sapele, while a number took up refuge in the bush and in neighbouring communities. This committee got an express mandate to, among other things, locate the displaced persons and provide necessary assistance to enable them settle down while stakeholders tackle issues surrounding the crisis.
â€œSuffice it to observe that many of the displaced persons are vulnerable people, such as women, nursing and pregnant women as well as children of various ages”.
We must commend the initiative of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan in setting up this committee to forestall further suffering and ensure the safety of lives of these people who are in very frustrating situationâ€, he stated.
He recalled that within theÂ first few days of the crisis,Â the Warri South West Local Government led by the Council Chairman Honorable George Ekpomukpolo quickly opened a camp at the Ewein Primary School, Ogbe Ijoh before his committee effected relocation to the General Hospital
According to him, â€œWe recognize the early roles played by the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, the Red Cross and other voluntary organizations and commend them for the steps taken to assist the IDPâ€™s. The camp no doubt is a redeeming feature for thousands of displaced persons; who we feed regularly, clothe, accommodate and provide with adequate medical careâ€.
â€œSo far, the Rehabilitation Committee has received millions of naira worth of relief materials from twenty-five various persons, institutions, religious bodies and corporate organizations. Among them is the wife of the State Governor, Mrs. Roli Sheila Uduaghan who through her â€˜I Care Programmeâ€™ brought an assortment of materials for the upkeep of the displaced persons. Others are NNPC/ Chevron Nigeria Limited, the Niger Delta Ministry, the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, UNICEF, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN.
â€œ Also included is the Word of Life Bible Church, the State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, the Nigerian Baptist Convention, Uduaghan Ladies Vanguard, Kenneth Gbagi foundation who added a cash gift of Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira and First Marine Engineering Services. Donations also came from Honorable Daniel Mayuku, the Ijaw G 3 leadership and the South South Women Forum, the list is indeed long. The outpour of love for the displaced persons, the response by philanthropists and waves and waves of relief materials sent in is overwhelming but we ask for moreâ€, he asserted.
His words, â€œWe received an assortment of foodstuff, condiments, toiletries, detergents, water, clothes, footwear, beverages, bedspread, mosquito nets, mattresses, bathing soap, blankets, pillows, lamps, roofing materials, cooking utensils and medicineâ€.
â€œIn keeping with the mandate of the committee to cater for displaced persons, the committee designed a way of ensuring even distribution of the materials received to all categories of those affected by the crisis. Within one month, we have been to the creeks three times to distribute materials such as foodstuff to several communities within the Gbaramatu Kingdom. Some Itsekiri communities also affected by the crisis because of the blockade of the waterway also benefited from the distribution of relief materials. The committee also distributed relief materials to communities through their respective community leaders.
â€œGiven the prevailing security situation in the Gbaramatu axis of the State, you can only imagine the risk taken by the committee to reach the numerous people stranded in the communities as well as those still finding refuge in the dense forest. These people have nowhere to go yet they are in dire need of these relief materials to survive.
â€œThe trips to the creek take several hours using the wooden boat popularly called kpekpekpe because it has the capacity to carry the materials since the waterway is still closed. The committee directly delivered materials to people in Kunukunma, Azama, Ubefan, Goba, Inikorogha, Opuedebubor, Opuedebulobu Tebijor, Benikurukuru, Abitoye, Kokodiagbene, Ugborodo, Madagho, Binigbene, Egwa and OporozaÂ headquarters of Gbaramatu kingdomâ€, Mr Otuaro said.
He said, â€œThe committee while taking into consideration thousands of others who fled to nearby communities as well as those who took refuge with relatives in and around Warri rather than live in the camp made special provision to give them relief materials through their various community leaders so that they do not become further burden on those accommodating themâ€.