Chris Steven, Abuja
Coalition of Civil Society Organisations on Human Rights and Conflict Resolution In Nigeria has accused foreign organizations of frustrating the moves to return the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, back to their country homes.
The group alleged that some international agencies have continued to enrich themselves in the name of rendering aid to victims of the Boko Haram attacks in the north eastern part of the country.
Maxwell Gowon, Executive Director/ National Coordinator, who made this revelation while presenting report after assessment of ongoing military exercise in Borno axis, called on the federal government and the military authorities to immediately unveil a roadmap for returning and reintegrating IDPs into their original communities.
He also opined that stakeholders should convene a forum to audit the roles being played by all organizations with presence in the northeast of Nigeria.
He said, “The decision to focus on these aspects was informed in part by feedback from residents of affected communities who are concerned that full return of peace to their towns and villages is being prevented by factors that stakeholders in Nigeria may not have much control over.
“The concerns were tempered by the understanding that anything that offers the slightest boost to Boko Haram risks not only reviving the terror organization but would also position the terrorists to fully overrun the country.
“These boosts, sadly, exist in form of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps that have remained operational in the areas years after the communities from where the IDPs were displaced have been fully liberated by troops and are being rehabilitated by the relevant level of government.
“The camps constitute soft targets for Boko Haram’s person borne IEDs and suicide bombers who continue to attempts attacks at the facilities to create the impression of still being deadly. The camps have also been exploited by sympathizers of the terror group as a recruitment ground to replenish the decimated ranks of the terrorists.
“Questionable international organizations like Amnesty International leverage on the existence of these camps as propaganda props. There have been reports that they monetarily induce IDPs to pose as victims of sexual abuse in order to malign soldiers. Diseases and other mishaps that are natural consequences of people being dislocated and confined to restricted areas are easily blamed on the military by an organization like this.
“Those profiting from Boko Haram terrorism continue to use the camps as avenue to steal money through diversion and theft of funds and relief materials. The presence of the IDPs at the camps does not therefore guarantee that intended interventions gets to them.
“The upcoming 2019 General Elections further expose the camps to the risk of becoming political prop with the risk that they could become epicenter of violence since politicians already exploit the vulnerability of the IDPs.
“IDPs are unable to return to lives of active economic engagement and therefore continue to be dependent on aids. This opens them up to being recruited as actors and actresses as recently demonstrated by the fictitious report published by Amnesty International that alleged that they were raped.
” It turned out in some cases that persons who have been forced into compromising position as a result want have to allege abuse to escape social rejection and get sympathy.
“Liberated but unoccupied communities provide safe haven for fleeing Boko Haram terrorists that are able to hide within such communities to plan attacks on soft targets. Failure of inhabitants to return to these towns and villages means the civil police does not allocate resources for covering them.
“Agencies of the United Nations like UNICEF, WHO, IOM and others have not done much to motivate the IPDs to return to their original communities. Staff of these agencies rather continue to encourage the IDPs not to return home. This is an arrangement that favours the staff as they continue to draw allowances when the camps remain open.
“Foreign NGOs are exploiting the IDPs to source funding that do not come to the need but are instead diverted to execute agenda that further undermine the security situation of the entire region so that the IDPs will not be willing to return home.
“A vicious circle has so been created. Some local NGOs have allied themselves to their foreign counterparts to share from the booty accruable from manipulating the IDPs situation.
” Most international NGOs and their allies in the north east have now abandoned their core mandates to engage in blackmailing the military to extend their stay in the north east without providing any succor for those affected by violence.
“The federal government and the military must immediately unveil a roadmap for returning and reintegrating IDPs into their original communities.
“Stakeholders should convene a forum to audit the roles being played by all organizations with presence in the northeast of Nigeria.”