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The Plight of Benue IDPs



One of the collapsed apartments

Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, at different camps in Benue State have voiced out their plight about shelter and have called intervention.

When SkyNews Correspondent took a tour to some camps in Guma and Makurdi Local Government Areas last week, Mama Kwaghwanhemba Ukor who lives in a nest-like shelter at Gbajimba, the headquarters of Guma Local Government said, “my son, we have no food to eat, see my stomach, I’m here with five children and my sons’ wives. “We have nowhere to go, Fulani herdsmen have displaced us from our ancestral home at Tse-Iordye village and when anyone makes attempt to go there, they kill the person”.

Narrating her unfortunate experience, Mama Mbatesen Tagherga aged 72 with her 8 children at Gbajimba camp 2 said, “whenever rain falls, water accumulates where we sleep and we have to pack it and wait until the ground dries up before we spread our mats and sleep again. There are no toilet facilities”

Mrs Comfort Ajo who has stayed in Daudu camp 1, Guma Local Government with her husband and 5 children for 4 years said, “my children are not going to school because of this hardship, volunteer teachers who were teaching them in this camp have left because they were not getting anything. After all, they were volunteers not employed teachers.

“I went to my house in Keana Local Government Area of Nasarawa State a couple of days ago when rain fell so that I would plant millet and a Fulani herder was grazing cattle on my corn which had germinated already and when I complained, he said I should go to Benue State, here is Nasarawa State. I cried and ran away because I was afraid he would kill me. But under normal circumstances, we are indigenes of Nasarawa State (Tiv in Nasarawa State).

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“Our Governor is trying but we are many in this camp, when they bring food items, our population is more than the food supply. It is 4 o’clock now and I have not eaten food since morning, that’s why I and my little daughter are sleeping under this tree because our food has finished.

“When it is Daudu market, some old women go to sweep the market in order to get something to eat while some of us who still have energy go to the bush and cut firewood to sell and get food but it’s not easy to get the firewood. Now that it has started raining, our men work on people’s farms to get paid when farming job is available. There is no drinking water, our boreholes have spoiled, the number of apartments destroyed by windstorm is more than good ones. We don’t have a clinic here, if your relative falls sick and you don’t have money, the person will die”, Mrs Ajo lamented.

A widow, Mrs Asebe Jebu, from Mbawa community in Guma Local Government who said she has spent four (4) years in the camp while narrating her ordeal said that she has eight (8) children, her first son’s wife and herself in the camp, Making a total number of ten (10) family members and things have been very tough with them!

“This hard condition led to my first son’s death when he went somewhere to look for food as he used to do. I was told that he woke up one certain night and started vomiting blood till he died. His wife who gave birth to twins shortly before her husband died is here with me and her other two children including my four children, bringing our total number to ten.

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“We don’t have food here talk less of our children going to school and we cannot go to our houses to carry food because militia herdsmen have taken over our houses and they lay ambush to kill us anytime we try to go and get firewood. “Even the last Daudu market, they killed my brother’s son who went to tse-Faasema to farm corn.

“We are facing untold hardship in the camp here, we grind rice and eat it together with chaff, our apartments have spoiled especially now that rainy season has set in. Most of the apartments have been destroyed by rainstorm, no where to stay. Even the remaining ones that are standing, water flows into the shelter and we become compelled to stand up from our mats, it’s not a place where human beings should be sleeping at all”, Mrs Jebu said.

Another IDP at Abagena camp, Makurdi Local Government, Mr Francis Anya, said he was displaced in 2012 and had lived with his wife and 13 children in Abagana camp for 4 years after they first settled at Tse-Orkar temporary camp for 8 years, totaling 12 years in camp.

“I had to leave Tse-Orkar, in Ukpiam to Abagena because even in that place, Fulani always came and killed people including mad people. Here in Abagana too, we are not safe because sometimes herdsmen militia attack us in the camp and its environs, leaving the whole area deserted.

“We don’t have problem of water because Red Cross Society provided water for us in this camp but there is acute food shortage. Our children are not schooling because volunteer teachers have withdrawn due to lack of benefits. “The hospital that was set up for us by Red Cross is not functioning anymore because health workers have moved to Mbawa camp without telling us what is their problem”, Anya said.

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There are many of those deplorable camps in many locations especially in Guma and Makurdi Local Government Areas. These can be seen along University of Agriculture Makurdi road between SRS junction, North Bank and the University gate. Others can be found at Gbajimba camp 2 and along Daudu-Makurdi road.

SkyNews learnt from the Executive Secretary of Benue State Emergency Management Agency (BSEMA), Dr Emmanuel Shior who spoke during the flag-off ceremony of Benue State 2022 Emergency Support Program for April- September by Victims Support Fund (VSF), that there are official IDP camps that were initially built by the State Government. But owing to the increasing number of the victims occasioned by the endless farmer/herder clashes, the displaced persons have resorted to self help by living anywhere they feel safe even without houses. He added that the Government had also created additional unofficial camps that are not well constructed like others; a challenge he attributed to paucity of funds hindering the Benue State Government.

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