The Benue SEMA Executive Secretary and his team at the flag off of food distribution to IDPs

By Peter Duru, Makurdi

The Benue state government is putting modalities in place to ensure the safe return of the over 1.5million Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in the state to their ancestral homes.

The Executive Secretary of Benue State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, Dr. Emmanuel Shior made this known Thursday during the flag off of the distribution of essential food items to IDPs in the state for the month of February.

While explaining that the government was ready to collaborate both local and foreign humanitarian partners to actualize the resettlement of the IDPs, Dr. Shior appealed to Federal Government to fulfill its pledge of ensuring the return of the IDPs to their communities.

He said: “Benue state government was ready even before now to return the IDPs to their ancestral homes, because you do not keep IDPs in the camps forever.

“We recall that around last June, Governor Samuel Ortom invited groups and humanitarian partners including the media where he shared his concern about the IDPs situation in the state and directed SEMA to work out a plan to return the IDPs to their ancestral homes.

“But when we shared that idea with CSOs and other partners it was agreed that the time was not ripe for that. Indeed attacks had continued more and more and people were killed. It was within that time that the Abagena IDPs camp was attacked by Fulani herdsmen. So it was risky to try to return the IDPs.

“But the plan is there, we hope that when we put that plan together with the Benue State Humanitarian Response Plan, HRP, that we have shared with the Federal Government through the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, the International Humanitarian Partners as well as domestic partners, we would soon come up with an arrangement to return the IDPs.”

The Executive Secretary who decried the neglect of Benue IDPs by the Federal Government said it was unfair for the government to turn a blind eye to the humanitarian crisis in Benue state while the North East was getting all the attention of the government.

“The Federal Government is certainly not doing enough to address the humanitarian crisis in Benue state. It is unfair to leave the state government with the burden of over 1.5million IDPs; the state government is overwhelmed and the Federal Government should show more concern to the situation in Benue state because we are all Nigerians,” Dr. Shior said.

Dr. Shior explained that aside the 1,000 cartoons of canned meat donated by the Federal Government through the National Emergency Management Agency, the state government was distributing bags of beans, rice, noddles and tubers of yam to official and unofficial IDPs camps across the state.

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