Metro

November 29, 2022

 ‘We have no place to go,’ Bayelsa flood victims cry as IDP camps close

By Emem Idio, Yenagoa

RESIDENTS sacked by the devastating flood in Bayelsa State, who the state government has ordered to vacate Internally Displaced Persons, IDP, camps, in public schools, have fallen into depression, because of abandonment and starvation, and cried out to the state government to come to their rescue, as they have no place to go.

With the resumption of schools, (on Monday), the state government had directed the closure of IDP camps in public schools at Akenfa, Agudama-Epie, Okutukutu, Edepie and Owom suburbs of Yenagoa, the state capital, but the IDPs, who had their homes submerged by flood, complained that the overflow has not receded completely in their communities.

Some of them, who spoke to NDV, lamented that while the state government took special care of the displaced persons in the two government camps, but neglected the displaced persons in others, particularly those in public schools.

Unpleasant treatment — West, victim

A member of the Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO, in Bayelsa State, Mr. David West, said: “Personally, I lived with the IDPs to experience it. Ordinarily, I am opportune to stay somewhere else, but I refused to. I stayed in one of the government uncompleted secondary schools. Until now, I am still living there with my family.

“Officially, government has refused to come and dislodge us, although they have sent us a message that schools will soon resume; that we have to vacate the place but then, the treatment is not welcoming.

“Throughout the period, I have seen no government official come to that camp, but some individuals came to share with the people. The government officials were busy telling us to go to the two government IDP camps.

“If everybody was to go there, will there be space for all of them? They do not know that we are even assisting the government to gather data.

“Till now, people are still donating relief materials, so who are they going to give these things to, since they have dislodged us?

No place to go — Biriye, IDP

A displaced person, Miss Helen Biriye, asserted: “We are still at the St. Peters Primary School camp, Ovom, Yenagoa. Flood destroyed our house and we have nowhere to go. We heard that school would resume on Monday, but my aged mother, siblings and I have nowhere to seek refuge.

“We desperately need help; we are begging the government to assist us. Even if it is a one-room apartment, we will manage. Please, you people should help us talk to the government and other good spirited people and organisations to come to our aid.”

Govt failed flood victims — Pastor Agu

Coordinator, IDP Camp, Edepie, Pastor Vitus Agu, said: “First, we want to thank the state government for allowing us to take refuge in this public school, but they failed is to take care of the IDPs. Although the flood is receding, some people are still in the IDP camps because, in their area, the flood is yet to recede and schools are resuming.

“Now, the state government has given orders that all camps should be closed because schools are resuming. In our camps, most women are crying. Most of the IDPs are confused, they do not know what to do, and some are even falling into depression.

“They have nowhere to go and don’t know how to start afresh; they neither have food nor finance. So, we are begging the government to come to the aid of these people and do something for them,” he said.

BYSEMA unfair — Pastor Nathaniel

Also lamenting the fate of IDPs housed outside the two government IDP camps, the Chairman of the Coalition of Respective Leadership of All Aggrieved 2022 Flood Prompted IDP Camps, Pastor Leighe Nathaniel, said the government was unfair to most of the IDP camps, in the distribution of palliatives and relief materials.

“We observed with dismay that the State Emergency Management Committee, BYSEMA, short-circuited its daily relief response to only the Igbogene and Oxbow-Lake IDP camps’ three times daily feeding, provision of a standby medical team and facilities, coordination and ushering of external donors to the said two camps alone.

“Forum has further observed with deep dismay that the Bayelsa State government’s ugly and bitter history of hoarding relief materials is threatening to repeat.

“We are further thrown into a state of deep disapproval over the avowed intention of the Bayelsa State Emergency Management Committee, regarding its next plan-of-action of closing all IDP camps, when the IDPs are yet to return to their homes.

“Government has to come up with a modality to rectify the discrepancy in the administration of palliatives between the two aforementioned preferentially treated camps and all other ill-treated camps. Government has to discontinue with the agenda of ward-base apportionment of the palliatives, but let it remain community-based.

“Forum further observed with dismay that they distributed the palliatives to various targets, without due consultation of stakeholders of the intended receipt-ends and thus warranting the eventual non-delivery of the palliatives to the originally designated destinations,” he said.