Following repeated attacks in Benue communities by suspected herdsmen, no fewer than Six Hundred Thousand residents have been displaced across the state.
In an interview with DAILY POST correspondent, the Executive Secretary, Benue State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, Dr Emmanuel Shior uncovered some facts about the increasing number of Internally Displaced Persons birthed by the rising insecurity in the state.
Being the SEMA boss, do you have the statistics of the IDPs currently in Benue camps?
Of course, I do. In 2019/2020, we carried out a general statistics of the IDPs in all the communities in Benue State. Although we did not limit the excises to just those in camps as we captured both the ones in their host communities.
The total number of IDPs we had in camps and host communities at that time was over 500,000.
However, due to the numerous fresh attacks on our communities, we conducted another statistics recently and recorded 100,000 new displaced persons. There are still others that we have not been able to capture at the moment. So I can tell you that we have over Six Hundred Thousand (600,000) IDPs here in Benue State.
What are the particular incidents that led to the displacement of these IDPs?
People are displaced here in Benue State as a result of the Fulani herdsmen’s attack, which after displacing them, the killer herdsmen will occupy the affected community, making it difficult for the IDPs to return to their ancestral homes.
That is why the state government has kept some of these displaced persons for over three years in the camps.
It is a big burden on the side of our government. It is very difficult but we thank God.
We thank God for the kind of Governor that we have, who has the passion to serve humanity and to cater for the welfare of not only the IDPs but also the people of Benue State, a God-fearing Governor.
Which of the camps do we have the largest number of IDPs?
The Governor recently established a new camp known as Uikpam in Guma Local Government. It is three times larger than the rest of the camps we have here in the State.
Did the State Government establish any of the camps in Zone C, Benue South?
We cannot create camps everywhere because creating camps also involves managing it by the Benue State Government through SEMA. We don’t play politics with humanitarian issues. People are displaced in Zone C especially in Agatu.
We have engaged the traditional rulers in those areas. Even the communities that are operating camps, we have done the same because the traditional rulers and the community leaders have accepted that idea.
In Agatu where we have the largest number of displaced persons in the Zone, they don’t want their people to be in the camp.
So whatever humanitarian arrangement we have, we extend it to them in Agatu and the rest of them in Zone C.
How is the welfare of the IDPs in those camps?
We thank God, but taking care of IDPs especially in such a large population is a very heavy burden that shouldn’t be left for the state government alone.
The Federal Government had tried in supporting our state government in taking care of the IDPs but it has not done enough.
We usually receive supports from the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, but they don’t come frequently with supports, so it is very difficult.
The state government cannot stop other projects so that the funding that comes to it be directed to only the wellbeing of the IDPs, no. The government has other responsibilities like the provision of roads and other infrastructures.
Is the state government proactive in ensuring that the IDPs are not attacked in camps?
The government has provided security in all the camps and we also hope that by the grace of God nothing will happen to them.
DAILY POST reports that the State had in recent time been plunged into a deteriorating security situation due to frequent attacks by suspected herdsmen in several communities.
Recall that suspected militia herdsmen on March 20, launched an attack on the convoy of the State Governor, Samuel Ortom while returning from his farm at Tyo-mu along Makurdi – Gboko road.
There has been other attacks ravaging the state almost on a daily basis, forcing residents out of their ancestral homes to the IDPs camps.