By Sumaila Ogbaje
Maiduguri – The Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Bakasi Camp in Maiduguri have called for empowerment from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
The IDPs made the call on Sunday when the UNHCR High Commissioner, Filippo Grandi, visited the camp
Chairman of the Camp, Mr Buba Gamashi, who spoke on behalf of the IDPs, commended the commission and other donor agencies for providing shelter at the camp.
Gamashi said the government had been meeting their feeding needs, calling on the agencies to introduce skill acquisition programme to help them to be self reliant and take them out of idleness.
He explained that about 90 per cent of the IDPs were farmers that had been displaced from their communities as well as dispossessed of their means of livelihood.
According to him, such programme like carpentry, tailoring, shoe-making and other skills will not only reduce their dependence on humanitarian assistance but also help them overcome trauma and psychological imbalance.
“We are also asking for provision of drugs and other consumables in our clinics and ambulance in case of emergency.
“We also need more toilets because what we have at the moment is not enough and many of us are still sleeping on the bare floor because there are no enough mattresses,” he said.
Gamashi, however, commended the federal and state governments for providing food and other necessities at the camp.
Also, Mr Said Alkali, Relief and Transportation Officer, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), said the major challenge of the IDPs was idleness.
Alkali, who is the Camp Coordinator, said that idleness could cause another crisis in future if something was not done to empower them while the plans to resettle them were on.
He disclosed that the camp currently had a population of 21,194 from five local governments of Monguno, Gwoza, Guzambala, Marte and Nganzai comprising 3,987 men, 6,116, 5,093 boys and 5,989 girls.
The coordinator also disclosed that the school in the camp currently had about 3,000 pupils, adding that more children needed to be encouraged to get enrolled.
According to him, feeding is good but nutritional food is important to enhance their health.
“UNHCR has been able to provide shelter for the IDPs in this camp and we are really grateful to the agency and other donor groups,” he said.
Responding, the UNHCR boss pledged to continue to give humanitarian assistance to the IDPs and collaborate with the government in its reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement programme.
Grandi called for enhanced security of the camp while commending the level of sanitation in the camp.