By Ndahi Marama, Maiduguri
Borno State Government disclosed yesterday that over 350,000 internally displaced persons have refused to return to the liberated communities but chose to remain in camps.
Commissioner for Local Government and Emirate Affairs, Mallam Usman Zannah who stated this during the Press week of the Borno State Council of Nigerian Union of Journalists said despite the fact that the military had liberated several commu-nities, over 350,000 of the displaced persons have refused to return to their communities to pick up their lives but remained in Maiduguri resettlement camps. He then called on Nigerian Peace Corps (NPC), National Orientation Agency (NOA) and media to sensitise the IDPs in camps to return to their communities.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Tukur Buratai who similarly wondered why the displaced persons were still in camps said, “the IDPs are still in camps, despite the liberation of over a dozen communities in Borno state.
The most important thing for the military is to ensure that all displaced persons return to their towns and villages. But I wonder, why the IDPs are still living in camps of Maiduguri metropolis”. The army boss expressed his concern while flagging off the Medical Outreach of Nigerian Army at the NYSC orientation IDPs’ camp on Damboa road yesterday.
According to Zannah; “the Kampala Convention says that we cannot force an IDP to go back. So, the Borno State Government and its humanitarian agency are therefore complying with the convention on voluntary return of the people. Yesterday, I urged members of the NPC and NOA to go into the camps and sensitise the IDPs to go back to their communities.
As far as the displaced persons are concerned, they prefer to get rice in the camps than go back to their towns and villages and pick-up their lives.” “The people of Damasak, Gambouru/Ngala, Mafa, Dikwa and Monguno have voluntarily returned to their own communities. Why should we therefore be keeping 3, 000 or 4, 000 people in the camps while people in other Local Government Areas are back in their communities?”, he queried