By Peter Duru – Makurdi
Benue state government has flagged off another phase of the distribution of food and non food items to over 1.5million Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in the state with a call on the federal government to pay attention to the plight of the IDPs in the state.
Executive Secretary, ES, of the State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, Dr. Emmanuel Shior who performed the Flag off on Wednesday in Makurdi lamented that the state government was overburdened warning that the IDPs continuous stay in camps for three years without adequate support from the federal government makes them vulnerable to all forms of social vices including terrorism.
He explained that the items being distributed including thousand of bags of rice, beans and noddles would be distributed to IDPs camps at Daudu I and ll, Uikpam, Gbajimba, Ortese, Udei, Anyii, Naka, Agagbe, Aoundona, Abagena and Tse Yandev all in Guma, Logo, Gwer West and Makurdi Local Government Areas.
Dr. Shior who said he had already visited Kwande LGA where over 10,000 Cameroonian refugees were being supported by the state government and other partners, said “with a population of over 1.5million IDPs it is a big burden for the government in providing resources and money to procure food and non food items for the IDPs.
“We spend hundreds of millions of Naira on a monthly basis procuring food and non food items. You know how costly food is. And the responsibility of providing the needs of the IDPs rests squarely on state government.
“These IDPs have been with us for over three years and we have kept them in the camps. It is unthinkable to keep the IDPs for more than three years. They are from certain communities and there is need to return them to their communities.
“Regrettably the federal government has not shown enough interest here yet we are experiencing a colossal humanitarian and development crisis in Benue because schools, hospitals, bridges, markets, churches and others have been destroyed by the invaders but the attention is only on the North East.”
On the allegation that children were being trafficked from one of the camps in Makurdi, the ES said “It is a shame to the federal government I must say. It takes us to another perspective of the challenge of IDPs who have been kept in the camps for more than three years. That exposes them and makes them vulnerable and anything can happen to them.
“They are even vulnerable to be recruited for terrorist activities. It is a big problem and the federal government has to take a view at the problem.
“The federal government has to come here quickly to try to address the problem of IDPs and return them so that we close the camps and take the IDPs away. Otherwise a lot of things can happen around the IDPs including the one you complained (child trafficking).”