The UN marks World Refugee Day on June 20th annually in order to bring global attention to the plight and suffering of children, women and men who flee their homes under threats of persecution, conflict and violence; and celebrates their perseverance, determination and resilience. In celebration, Doctors Health Initiative (DHI) seeks to create awareness on internal displacement in Nigeria.
Of the 40million IDPs in the world, 12.5million are in Africa and Nigeria accounts for 2million! Between January and June 2020, The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre’s (IDMC) data collated from research efforts of different organizations revealed 28,542 fresh cases of internal displacements in Nigeria. In 2019, the African Union’s bid to find long-term solutions to Africa’s displacement dilemma led to the declaration of 2019 as ‘The Year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons.’ An IOM/UN Migration Agency study of the 6 states mostly affected by insurgency in the North uncovered the existence of 1,918,508 IDPs in that region. 79% of the IDP population were women and children. In December 2019, the same study revealed 2,039,092 IDPs in the same region with 80% being women and children. The 6 states where the research was carried out were Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe. Borno state in both years hosted 75% of all IDPs in the region.
Photos of IDP activities in various states over the years – providing health services; training female IDPs in Benin City; IDP Walkathon in Lagos.
IDPs in Nigeria are easily identified as people who have had to leave their villages and towns for fear of insurgency; those who have been forced out of their houses by the effects of erosion, flooding, drought, famine etc; people who have lost their homes to government’s demolition exercises; and communities plagued by pollution and whose inhabitants are compelled to seek safer environments in order to stay healthy and source for livelihood. The squatters in an uncompleted building at the end of the street who had to move when the local government built a set of lock up shops in that space; the family in the swampy part of a yet to be developed area whose wooden shelter got submerged by heavy rain; and the couple staying temporarily with family members because their home was razed down during a communal clash are all IDPs. These persons have become so much part of our everyday lives that we are unaware that they should be categorized as internal displaced persons who are owed a duty by government.
*To be concluded
With donations from generous individuals and organizations, DHI has been organizing outreaches to internally displaced persons throughout the nation since 2008. We give foodstuff, essential materials and free health consultations/services during these outreaches. We are constantly in need of donations and volunteers. Would you please join us? Contact details: 0703 255 6691 or 0803 752 5616. For donations – Access Bank, account no. 006 549 6649, account name – Doctors Health Initiative. Visit us at www.dhicares.blog to learn more about what we do.
**Ogonna Kanu, a DHI volunteer, writes from Lagos, Nigeria