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Mixed, sordid tales from IDPs camps

By Joke Falaju, Abuja
16 July 2016   |   4:43 am
The Federal Capital Territory Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has blamed leaders in the Internally Displaced Camps for the diversion of food and non-food items meant for the IDPs


FEMA Blames Leaders In IDPs Camps For Diversion Of Relief Materials

The Federal Capital Territory Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has blamed leaders in the Internally Displaced Camps for the diversion of food and non-food items meant for the IDPs

FEMA spokesperson, Josie Mudasiru, who stated this while speaking to The Guardian in Abuja, said internal investigation by the agency revealed that some of the leaders sell some of the relief items to raise funds for medical supplies or hospital bills.

She said: “The leaders said it was not as if they don’t distribute the items, but there are times they have health needs that are very urgent and cannot get to FEMA, they have to sell some of these items to get cash to procure drugs.“Since there are no formal camps in the FCT, when we distribute relief items, we usually hand them over to leaders in the IDPs camps, so it is not possible for any FEMA official to go back and start repackaging the food after donating it, but we have heard stories that some of the leaders sell some relief items’, she said.

Disclosing plans by the agency to distribute food and non-food items to the IDPs’ camps today, Mudasiru said: “To forestall the problem of diversion of relief items, we planned going from house to house and contacting the family heads to hand over the relief items personally to them.”She said they usually involve security agents, while distributing the relief items, “but the fact remains that we cannot remain there with them, we usually involve the security agents while distributing to avoid hoodlums hijacking the materials.”

She, however, disclosed that the agency was able to secure non-food items from a private company and they would be distributed to three camps-Sunshine Estate Camp, Gongola Camp, and Buhari camp while the Victim Support Fund (VSF) provided them with food items.

Some of the items to be distributed include, blankets, mosquito nets, five bags of bathroom slippers, mats, Izal, used clothes, groundnut oil, rice, maize, millet, detergents, bathing soaps and Mouka mattress.Since the IDPs began to relocate to the FCT, they have been living in shanties and fending for themselves.

One of the IDPs who craved anonymity told The Guardian that some of their men work in construction sites, while some ride okada, others ride taxi or engage in farming work.The Director of FEMA, Alhaji Idris Abass said the challenges of the IDPs were complex, revealing that thousands of them were spread across 21 camps in the FCT.

Abass said: “We have 21 locations in the FCT now and over 21,000 IDPs spread across the territory, those are the ones we have captured. There are so many others and, on a daily basis, they keep coming to Abuja.”

Explaining why the IDPs relocated to Abuja, one Philemon Emmanuel said: “Most of us are farmers, so we are looking for the place to plant food items and make money. You know that in Borno State, especially in Gwoza, we are good in farming.“We have our brothers living here and they told us that there are places in Nasarawa State like Kugaru and Kagruma and there is a mission field in Kwali where we can be allowed to farm.”

Explaining why there is no formal Internally Displaced Persons Camp in Abuja, Mudasiru said the situation that produced the displaced persons was in the North East, and in a situation like this, camps are usually built in places where the problem started.

She added that this would ease tracing of people, relocation of the IDPs back to their areas after resolving whatever crisis that caused the displacement, saying that there are IDP camps in North-eastern states of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Gombe and no one expected the IDPs to cross five states to come and settle down in the FCT.

Mudasiru said FEMA has been working with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to manage the IDPs in FCT, adding that the agency has social workers that visit the camps every Tuesday to know their needs and ameliorate them.

She said they also work with non-governmental organization, train some of the IDPs in fashion designing, fish farming, soap making among others.
What we do in disaster management is to create a temporary place for people to stay pending the time they can go back to their homes.

On the complaints by IDPs that government is not doing enough, the FEMA spokesperson said “for someone who was forced to leave his area of comfort, nothing can ever be enough and we as an agency cannot meet all their needs, but we try as much as possible to ensure that they are living in a safe place, provide them with food and ensure their children go to school.’

Disclosing plans to move the IDPs back to their homes; the FERMA spokesperson said that there are advance plans to relocate the IDPs before the end of the year. She said they would not force them to move back to their locations, adding that anyone intending to move can move back.

She said they would have started the relocation of IDPs last month but because of the report of diversion of food items, they had to step down the plan, pending the time there is enough arrangement for them.