Another Visit With Some Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs): what we all can do to help
Posted on January 5, 2014
Two weeks ago, I sat down (again) with some IDPs, (victims of the 2011 post-election riots) currently taking refuge in Hajj Camp, Mando, Kaduna State. In the course of what eventually became a lengthy chat with nearly 50 members of the camp in attendance, I expressed frustration with respect to the IDPs’ continued stay in the camp. Of course I appropriately heaped a fair share, or most, of the blame on the Kaduna State Government (for not having followed and implemented recommendations provided by the committee that was setup to look into the ‘immediate and remote causes of the crisis’, for not adequately compensating the victims for their varied losses, and for generally not taking steps capable of socially, economically reintegrating the IDPs back into society).

But, I also challenged the victims’ seeming docile attitude and complacency, while urging them (the men especially) to leave the confines and security of the camp, the occasional donation of food, clothing etc., and to try to get their lives back in order. I appreciate that they did not take my challenging them as patronizing or insensitive, but rather, as concern for their, and our collective wellbeing.

Blames aside, and realistically, it is easier said than done. Imagine losing all you’ve ever worked for (business, job, home, family members etc.) in one day. You’re old, widowed or orphaned, you’ve also been ejected from familiar territory and are enclosed in a camp, in a state where you probably never had prior contact with anyone, you’re essentially disconnected from mainstream society, the government has conveniently forgotten about your plight – expect for when it wants to eject you from the camp… How easy would it be to recover and build your life back, i.e. without adequate social and financial support? Even people who haven’t suffered losses or geographical dislocation are finding it difficult climbing on the socioeconomic ladder due harsh economic condition, lack of jobs, almighty corruption etc.

So far, the lot that have left the camp, about 4000 people, were enabled to do so through cash support from Dangote, and other forms of empowerment by NGOs. Muslim Professionals in Da’awah , an NGO, donated work tools (sewing machines, welding and carpentry equipment) and some cash — to help with immediate needs like accommodation and other stuff to about 300 people (50-70 households). Now, those 300 have left the camp, enrolled their children in public schools, and are once again trying to give being productive citizens a shot. Network for Justice, another NGO, is the reason the government hasn’t thrown the IDPs out in the cold, and they’re committed to seeing that these people get the justice they deserve.

The question is what can we, individuals, do to empower the rest of the IDPs?

Through the support of people (a lot from the UK, and some here) that have followed my comments about IDPs on Facebook, we’ve retained services of 3 teachers at N7k (each) a month, split the near 130 kids into 3 classes, and (voilà!) we’re back in school. We purchased, respectively, 150 exercise books, pencils, erasers and sharpeners, also educational posters, chalk etc. to help with the children’s education (one day we shall give them tablets in sha Allah!). Thanks to Jazzmine Breary for financially enabling a second Eid party, she’s spoken to me about sending books all the way from London… I guess we’ll figure out a way soon.

Now, above are just examples of what people can do… sadly though, they’re temporary measures, and not much of a solution. A perfect and permanent solution is when there’s no one left residing in the camp. (But what to do about the very old, widowed (women), and orphaned? I met a guy, not very well-to-do and a victim himself, who took in 11 orphans).

Here’s what little we can do; a sum of N130-150k can empower a household (about 133 households, making 357 people altogether). If you will like to help, kindly donate into this account; Account Name: INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS MANDO, Account No:1013603091, Zenith Bank. Your donation can help restore a person’s livelihood and dignity, or even support the kids’ temporary education. If, hopefully, you’re passionate enough, you can follow-up with the Kaduna State Government. I understand the office of the SSG manages the case of IDPs. You can also write organisations like TY Danjuma Foundation, MTN Foundation, socially responsible private sector organisations and solicit support for the IDPs.

I will collaborate on ideas and solutions with anyone who genuinely wishes to support. I’ll also like to reach out to the media for help in highlighting this issue, a short clip documenting the sequence of events since the crisis in 2011 with focus on present pitiable living conditions of the IDPs will go a long way, possibly shock the government into responsibility (tall order abi? Sigh). Let’s (for a moment shed partisanship and) collaborate to give fellow Nigerians a chance…

Well, God bless you, and Nigeria too.

Zainab Sandah

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