Babagana Zulum, the Governor of Borno State, met with international and local non-governmental organizations to explain the State Government’s decision to close IDP camps and restrict food aid distribution in resettled communities.
The meeting took place as Governor Zulum distributed billions of Naira to 115,000 IDPs who had been safely resettled in 11 communities.
Each household consisting of a husband, wife, and a few children received N200,000, while widows received N150,000 and a large amount of food.
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The intervention was intended for IDPs who were given newly constructed or reconstructed homes to use as livelihoods by operating small businesses, while a committee was formed to monitor their progress on a regular basis and to deploy food aid intervention as needed.
Rather than lining them up every day and taking their pictures during the distribution of food rations, Governor Zulum wanted the resettled IDPs to be assisted in growing businesses as long-term sources of income.
“You are all aware of the (horrible) situation in the IDP camps, and the conditions of people in these IDP camps in the State, the threat of increased drug abuse, prostitution, Gender Based Violence, increased risk of epidemics such as cholera and meningitis, as well as increased risk of COVID 19,” the governor said. Muna camp, for example, is widely considered to be one of the worst camps in the world.
“It’s a camp where many of you wouldn’t want to keep your dog or a pig in terms of amenities,” Zulum said.
He explained that “people living in IDP camps in Borno are tired, and many have decided to return to their communities.” People from Nganzai, for example, decided to move on their own, and people from Damasak moved from Niger’s camps on their own, and we were told with facts that people were determined to return and restart their lives, with or without the government.
“We set out to voluntarily return and resettle our people where security permits, in accordance with the Borno State Resettlement Plan and the Return Strategy as agreed by the Government and our partners.”
We offered three options for our brothers and sisters in the voluntary resettlement and return efforts:
1. People can leave the camp and relocate to Maiduguri township, where we will provide them with money to rent a house for a year as well as food to last them about three months.
They are eligible to apply for our SME Microcredit Grant Program.
2. People can safely return to their newly constructed homes in their LGA headquarters or villages, where the military has granted us security clearance and other civil security agencies are ready to deploy civil security.
3. People can choose to stay in an IDP camp, in which case we will relocate them to a new camp that has been merged to allow for the return of public services. In some of these camps, such as the Mohammed Goni College of Legal and Islamic Studies (Mongolis), the camp was re-established as a school and the NYSC camp was re-established as a National Youth Service camp.
“Camp Merger is a well-known international practice,” Zulum explained.
Governor Zulum also explained to humanitarian partners that, while humanitarian workers were encouraged to continue supporting IDPs in camps that still exist, the government imposed food aid restrictions in 11 communities that were rebuilt with the help of some foreign humanitarian and development partners, including the UN, after the communities were deemed safe for civilian reoccupation.
Ajiri, Kalari, and Ngom in Mafa LGA, Kawuri in Bama, Baga town, and Cross Kyawa in Kukawa, Shuwari in Jere, Ngoshe in Gwoza, Marte town in Marte, Wulgo Town in Ngala, Gubio Town in Gubio, and Magumeri Town in Nganzai LGA were among the 11 communities named by the Governor.