Nigeria faces a serious problem of displacement amongst its people. Internally displaced persons (shortened for “IDPs”) are a group of persons who have been forced or have had to leave their places of residence and homes due to insecurity challenges, but have not crossed any international recognized border. Displacement can be due to various reasons such as armed conflict, general violence, natural or human-made disasters, etc. A country that battles with insecurity will as a consequence have the problem of displacement as people move around looking for secure places to settle.
In Nigeria, the most popular Boko Haram insurgency is the major cause of internal displacement in the country. The Boko Haram insurgency has accounted for the displacement of about 2.4 million Nigerians. Other causes of internal displacement include the yielding of Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon, jihadist violence, farmers-herders conflict, large-scale development projects that entail demolition and reconstruction, inter-communal conflicts and boundary disputes, etc. Nigeria’s internally displaced population continues to increase since all conflict and security challenges are unresolved. The problem of internal displacement in Nigeria only points to a deeper problem of violence and conflict in the country. This article writes on the problems with internally displaced persons in Nigeria.
Problems of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nigeria
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Nigeria’s displaced population are vulnerable and are at the mercy of military and armed forces. Internally displaced persons are at the risk of being targets for terrorism. IDP camps can also become target recruitment areas for terrorists. There is also the risk of the rise of violent crimes in IDP camps. The government needs to ensure the safety of internally displaced persons from further attacks.
Lack of basic amenities
IDP camps in Nigeria are overcrowded and lack the basic amenities needed for basic survival. These basic amenities include shelter; the number of people in need of shelter keeps increasing as more people are added to the camps. The government needs to look into building more camps so there can be access to shelter. The living conditions in IDP camps also need to be improved. If the issue of insecurity is not properly addressed, there will continue to be the problem of displacement. Increased displacement is what gives rise to the risk of insecurity and overcrowding at the IDP camps. The government needs to seek new ways to eliminate terrorism and arrest any new sources of war and conflict in the country.
The plan of returning Internally displaced persons to their home
Internally displaced persons’ camps are supposed to be temporary abodes for refugees. The government is supposed to prioritize a long-term plan of returning internally displaced persons to their homes and a normal life. This plan should include helping internally displaced persons to resettle and rebuild their lives. If the government does not prioritize a plan of returning internally displaced persons home, it can turn IDP camps into permanent places of residence which run the risk of being a target for further violence and can also demoralize Internally displaced persons.
Lack of adequate care
Internally Displaced Persons rely on the government for the provision of basic needs such as food and clothing. In many IDP camps in Nigeria, internally displaced persons are not always cared for as donors such as the government, religious organizations and human rights organizations do not always meet up on their promises. This leaves Internally Displaced Persons are at the mercy of others and if their needs are not met, they continue to suffer. The Nigerian government and other management agencies need to improve the provision of food, healthcare facilities and clothing for internally displaced persons.
Lack of freedom
Internally displaced persons need to be able to move safely and freely within and outside IDP camps so they can earn a living for themselves. Freedom of movement is usually restricted by tight security and other conditions surrounding IDP camps in Nigeria.
Provision of financial support and Empowerment platforms
There is a need for the Nigerian government and other management agencies to provide means of earning and other financial supports so as to improve the economic power of internally displaced persons. In order to increase financial support for internally displaced persons, the government can solicit for donations and financial aids from both domestic and internal humanitarian organizations. Trading and empowerment platforms and should also be provided to ensure internally displaced persons can start to create wealth for themselves.
Inadequate care for displaced children
In most IDP camps in Nigeria, adequate care is not given to children in the camps. There is often a breakdown of family systems and a lack of parental guidance for children in IDP camps. Many children are also not able to attend schools and get an education.
Many internally displaced persons have lost loved ones such as parents, siblings, children etc. Family disintegration is one of the psychological and social challenges prevalent among internally displaced persons in Nigeria. The deaths of family members have adverse psychological effects on most children. Many IDP camps lack the appropriate structure to help children such as this to cope with this emotional challenge. Management agencies of IDP camps need to put strategies in place to ensure the reintegration of families and enhance family ties.
High mortality rate
Most IDP camps suffer higher mortality rates than the rest of the population. This is due to a lack of basic amenities such as health care facilities, food and water.
Children and especially the female gender are at the risk of different forms of sexual assault in IDP camps. This is due to the breakdown of family systems that can ensure protection for these ones.
The Nigerian government needs to pay more attention to the care of internally displaced persons in Nigeria. The adoption of a national policy on internal displacement is a good start. However, strategies need to be put in place to ensure the implementation of these policies by the right authorities. This includes proper management, good governance to ensure funds disbursed to IDP camps are not mismanaged.