Returning refugees from Cameroun overstretching Borno IDPs camps, army warns
The Commander of 152 Battalion of Nigerian Army, Commander Kenechukwu Otubo, has disclosed that the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Banki is overstretched with the influx of displaced persons from liberated border communities of Borno State and Cameroun.
Otubo raised the alarm yesterday while briefing the Acting General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7 Division of Nigerian Army, Brig-Gen. Victor Ezugwu at the border town of Banki.
He said the Banki IDPs camp is a “New Banki City,” because of the military’s vision of accommodating the influx of displaced persons from liberated border communities in the state.
“The reality is an overcrowded camp for 32,000 desperate people made homeless by Boko Haram. Over 78, 000 refugees are expected from Cameroun this month, ” he added.
Otubo said Banki is an example of the enormous challenge facing the country, as it tries to resuscitate civilian life in the border town with Cameroun, warning: “We can’t say peace has returned.”
The military recaptured the border town in September 2015 after fierce battles with Boko Haram insurgents who have killed over 20,000 people since 2009.
In Banki, the Army’s urgent priority was not to rebuild schools and reconstruct homes, but to dig trench around the ever-expanding perimeter swollen by IDPs.
“This battalion is still faced with the challenge of protecting IDPs. It becomes inevitable to keep expanding and barricading all entry and exit points,” said Captain Aminu Abdulmalik.
“If the town is not excavated in the nearest future, we will be exposed to suicide bomb attacks and supporters of Boko Haram terrorists,” he added.
Banki is located South-East of Maiduguri, the state capital and covers a distance of 143 kilometres.In protecting displaced persons in camps, no one is allowed to leave the patrolled perimeter without permission or keep cell phones, out of fear of using same to contact the insurgents.