By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – Governor Samuel Ortom has raised the alarm over the rising number of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs and the high influx of refugees from Cameroon in Benue saying the state is now endangered.
He maintained that it was not an easy task for the state to manage the refugees and IDPs and urged the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to intervene to cushion the burden.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Benue State, Nathaniel Ikyur made available to Sundiata Post in Abuja.
According to the statement, Governor Ortom stated this Monday, October 24th, 2022 when he received an Inter-Agency Technical Committee delegation from the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development who paid him a courtesy call at the Benue Peoples House, Makurdi.
He said, “We remain an endangered state as far as issues of refugees and IDPs are concerned in our country Nigeria” stressing that since 2017, “the state has continued to witness influx of IDPs in the various official and unofficial established camps.”
According to the Governor, “On record, we have over 2 million IDPs in Benue State that have been profiled” noting that the State currently hosts over 10,000 Cameroonian refugees who are taking refuge in Benue as a result of the crises in southern Cameroon.
Ortom said “We have taken it as a responsibility of the government to provide minimum comfort for the Cameroonian refugees” and added that the State Government has continued to prevail on the host communities to allow the refugees to settle down.
The Governor further disclosed that over 134,000 persons have been displaced from their homes as a result of the recent flooding that caused havoc in some parts of the state, saying due to early sensitization, there were less casualties.
While appreciating the support of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development in the past, Ortom urged the committee to carry out their assessment of the humanitarian situation on ground with diligence.
Governor Ortom charged the Committee to adequately report to the Ministry the situation on ground, so that help could be provided to the state, adding that the State Government would continue to do its best in handling the challenges to ameliorate the sufferings of the people.
He mandated the Executive Secretary, State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, Dr Emmanuel Shior to furnish the Interagency Committee with detailed information on the prevailing challenges.
Earlier, Leader of the ministerial team, Mr Murdakai Titus of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and IDPs (NCFRMI) who spoke on behalf of the Interagency Technical Committee, appreciated the Governor for the cooperation he has accorded the team and acknowledged the kind disposition of the Governor in receiving the asylum seekers/refugees in the state as well as his commitment in providing enabling environment for their wellbeing and protection.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria is mindful of challenges and tensions always associated with hosting asylum seekers and refugees globally especially in the immediate host communities and Nigeria’s experience is not different particularly in Benue state.
“It is to this end that this multi-sectoral team is on this mission to your state to carry out needs assessment of the possibile humanitarian situations caused by the influx of refugees from Cameroon into Nigeria through the national border corridors, including Benue State,” he said.
He explained that, the team comprise representatives of, Federal Ministries of Humanitarian Affairs, Health, Office of the National Security Adviser, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons IDPs and United Nations Partners, United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), stating that the relevant MDAs in the state will also join the team.
According to him, the exercise was to enable the Federal Government and its Humanitarian partners in collaboration with the State Government to obtain first-hand information on the humanitarian situation created by the influx of asylum seekers from Cameroon with a possible solution through a burden-sharing mechanism.