Maiduguri displaced youths yearn to return home
Displaced youngsters constituted a great proportion of the inhabitants forced to leave their hometowns by insurgents in Borno State.
Most of the youths who live either alone or with their parents in temporary settlements, otherwise called Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps, had their education severely truncated because of lack of access; majority of them had lacked teachers who could keep track of their educational needs.
Governments, interest groups and donor agencies were said to have invested significantly in the continued education of displaced kids, yet, many were out of school.
Seven-year-old Ahmad was among the hundreds of children
Muna Camp in Maiduguri who poured out on Monday to witness a verification exercise for select displaced persons by the officials of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons and the Central Bank of Nigeria at Muna IDP camp in Maiduguri. Those selected would later learn vocational skills and receive tools to build their own businesses.
Little Ahmad who played with his peers appeared to have been raised in an unpleasant family milieu because he suffered from poor hygiene and said he had been wearing same clothes for days. He said he was not enrolled at primary school, instead, attended a Qur’anic school at the camp. Two of his friends who claimed to have attended lessons at a nearby school said they were yearning for their hometowns.
Haruna Saleh, 21, said his family members were displaced from Goniri in Dikwa “five years ago,” and fled to other places before they arrived at Muna camp, Maiduguri.
Although, federal emergency authorities distributed rations to displaced households slightly above the UN standards monthly, Saleh said his family was frustrated by the lack of enough food.
He said, “I work as agricultural laborer to earn money while many other displaced youths are petty traders.”
According to him, displaced persons also faced poor hygiene and sanitation problems apart from lack of good shelter and poor nutrition, particularly when the location was flooded with rain waters.
“I want to return to my community because here, I am forced to endure poor conditions,” he said.
Saleh also said authorities have taken a headcount of the displaced persons with a view to returning them to their original communities.
“But we were told that we shall be resettled in Dikwa at the first stage before we return to our hometowns,” he said.
The unattractive condition of the people in the povertystricken camp was further worsened by social vices particularly illicit drug addiction. Youths were seen in one makeshift camp smoking cannabis openly.
“People blaze openly because there are no tough lawmen willing to crackdown on it,” a passer-by said.
In a related development, the chairman of displaced persons in Maiduguri, Ibrahim Usman, has pleaded with the federal authorities to increase the monthly feed rations due to daily influx of displaced people.
“People are fleeing their communities due to the fear of attacks while those who sought refuge in other states are returning to Maiduguri. In the intervening time, only the registered IDPs are given food and non-food items,” he said.
He said monthly food distribution had been steady in the last couple of months.
When contacted, Borno State Head, Food Distribution Team, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Flight Lieutenant Sani Umar, said complaints on the arrival of new IDPs were sent to the agency’s headquarters in Abuja which would request a verification exercise to be carried out to ascertain the identities of people before their feed rations are supplied.