More deaths, displacements and herdsmen saga

While over 1000 people were killed from the Boko Haram crises within the year in the North-East, more innocent citizens have been displaced by herdsmen in the North-Central Nigeria. These are official figures from agency responsible for emergency management and relief distribution to victims of disasters.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)has disclosed that more than 1,000 people have been killed so far this year in three states in northeastern Nigeria worst hit by Boko Haram violence.

The figures are the starkest indication yet of the increase in bloodshed in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe that have caused growing concern.

NEMA said in a presentation in Abuja recently that people living in the states were “caught up in an intensifying conflict”, which has been raging since 2009.

“The human toll: more than 1,000 people dead and 249,446 displaced between January to March 2014… One in five of the total population are not living in their own homes,” it added.

Violence has increased in northeastern Nigeria since the new year, including a high-profile attack on a boarding school in Yobe, which saw dozens of students slaughtered in their beds.

A state of emergency imposed in the three states in May last year has largely forced the militants out of urban centres but villagers in remote, rural areas have borne the brunt of continued attacks blamed on the Islamist extremists.

NEMA said that some 3.2 million people — nearly a third of the overall population in the three states — were affected by the crisis, most of them women, children and older people.

A total of 244,000 were living with friends or relatives and just over 5,000 were in camps.

“Immediate assistance” was required for 1.5 million people while there needed to be an “urgent and significant scale-up” of humanitarian assistance, especially of food, water and healthcare.

Meanwhile the National Emergency Management Agency said no fewer than 100 communities had been displaced by herdsmen in Benue State. The North-Central Zonal Coordinator of the agency, Mr Abdusalam Mohammed, said this on Monday in Makurdi when he presented relief materials to displaced victims at the St. Mary’s Primary School, Makurdi.

Mohammed, who led a team of NEMA officials from Jos, said they were in the state to distribute the materials to cushion the effects of the displacement.

He said no fewer than 52,000 people were already in the camps established by the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi in the state.

The Deputy Governor, Mr Steve Lawani, who received the items, assured the agency that the state government in collaboration with the Federal Government would chase out terrorists from the state.

Lawani said there were plans to return the victims to their homes to enable them to embark on their farming activities.

“Government plans to take you back to your homes as soon as possible. There is no food we give you here that is better than what you have in your homes,’’ he said.

He said the state government was collaborating with the Federal Government, and would leave no stone unturned to make sure that all the displaced persons return to their ancestral homes.

Lawani expressed appreciation to NEMA for the gesture, saying the agency had always responded promptly to emergency situations in the state, citing the 2012 flooding in the area.

He also commended the agency for constructing toilets to improve sanitary conditions in the camps.

The Executive Secretary of Benue State Emergency Management Agency, Mr Adikpo Agbatse, said the agency had provided cassava chips and two bags of beans to the displaced persons.


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