By Peter Duru, Makurdi
The Benue State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, weekend disclosed that the state needs approximately N500million monthly to provide the basic needs of its close to two million Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs.
The Executive Secretary of Benue SEMA, Dr. Emmanuel Shior who made the disclosure in Makurdi while flagging off the monthly distribution of food and non-food items to the official and unofficial IDPs camps in the state lamented that the humanitarian crisis in the state occasioned by armed herdsmen attacks had overwhelmed the state government.
He explained that the state government was struggling with the burden without support from the Federal Government saying “we need about N500million to take care of the basic needs of the IDPs on a monthly basis.
“We know that food is very very expensive. A truck of 25kg rice which is about 1,200 bags is about N18million for one truck. What we have here is not enough to go round. So in terms of purchasing food and non-food items that should be enough, we need approximately N500million to buy enough items for the IDPs monthly.
“It is unfortunate that Benue State has been abandoned and the IDPs have been neglected by the Federal Government; and the challenge at hand is very huge that it cannot be left to the Benue State government alone.
“Fortunately Governor Samuel Ortom has been relentless not only in working and ensuring that he mobilizes Benue SEMA on a monthly basis to respond to some of the basic needs of the IDPs, but also ensuring that in other areas of human endeavor he works to ensure that the lives of Benue citizens are actually better.
“The situation we have in our hands is not only humanitarian, in most of the communities that they attacked they also destroyed the infrastructure, farmlands, crops schools, markets, churches and even bridges so as to make it difficult for security agencies to access the attacked communities and those they are occupying.
“So it is difficult for the government to return the IDPs. And this has been in existence for over four years since 2018 but we will not be tired of talking about this. Some people who want to be mischievous try to compare the humanitarian situation in Benue state to what is happening in Borno state.
“It is unfortunate to make that kind of comparison because there is no basis for it. Benue State has been neglected, the IDPs have been abandoned by the Federal Government; and indeed the challenge at hand is very huge that it cannot be left to the Benue State government alone.
“Whereas in Borno state, Governor Zulum enjoys tremendous support from the Federal Government and over 200 humanitarian partners as we speak today are supporting Borno state government. All roads lead to Borno to the neglect of the humanitarian crisis in Benue state. So there is no basis for the comparison. Even at that our Governor is not tired, he has remained resolute and stood firm to beat his cheat that even if the Federal Government does not come here, the Almighty God is with him.
“He also enjoys the support of some of his colleagues. So as he mobilizes me on a monthly basis to distribute food and non-food items to the IDPs we will continue to do it despite the neglect of the Federal Government.”
Dr. Shior lauded the humanitarian partners that had been with the agency and supporting its activities including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees,UNHCR, Doctors Without Borders, Victims Support Fund, VSS, the Red Cross, ActionAid, as well as Local NGOs and many spirited individuals who had been assisting the agency.
He stated that the items for distribution included thousands of bags of rice, noddles, sorghum, millet and cassava flour assuring that the items would be taken directly to the IDPs under close supervision of staff of the agency.