Thousands flee Kebbi communities over invasion by armed bandits

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Humanitarian crisis is brewing in Zuru Emirate, Kebbi State as thousands of have fled their following the invasion by armed bandits. Three of the four Local Government Areas that make up the Emirate that are worse hit are Sakaba, Donka/Wasagu and Fakai.

However, the state government has beefed up security in the affected communities, according to Kebbi State Commissioner for Information, Rakiya Tanko Ayuba.

A member representing Sakaba Constituency at the Kebbi State House of Assembly, Salisu Dangoje, lamented the humanitarian crisis in his constituency and called for urgent assistance before it is too late.

Zuru Emirate is said to have a landmass of about 9000kmsq, more than the size of Anambra and Lagos States combined. But banditry, which started as isolated cases in the Emirate some seven years ago, has now become large scale and a daily occurrence between 2020 and this year, getting to the peak in the last one month.

At the time of filing this report, there were reported raids ongoing in rural communities, in broad daylight. The situation is said to be causing a massive influx of villagers, trek hours to reach the nearest urban or semi-urban areas that are considered safe in the Emirate.

“Right now the number of refugees in Donka town is three or four times the number of residents here,” said Mallam Jibrin Abubakar Danko, the village head of Donka, a semi-urban settlement in Donka/Wasagu LGA.

“I can’t estimate their numbers, but they are in their thousands,” he explained. “They are still coming each day and feeding them is a huge challenge,” he added.

According to Danko, most of them escaped with only what they had on, carrying a grain of food. “Some of the women have resorted to begging. I don’t know what will happen in the next few weeks,” he said, “We need urgent intervention,” he pleaded.

The displaced are almost everywhere that appears secured in the Emirate, including Zuru town, and its satellite areas such as Sabon Gari and the historically rich Dabai town.

Others places where human misery could be seen are Ribab, Bena, Waje, Ayu, Yalmo and Unashi, which was also viciously attacked last April. The IDPs were also sighted in places like Diri Daji, Dirin Gida, Jan Birni, Beve and other areas in the affected council areas.

“We are hungry all the time and we don’t know how long we can manage it here,” Mariam Bitrus, 50, mother of 11 putting up at the United Mission Church of Africa (UMCA) in Diri Daji said.

Bitrus added: “My village, Maganda, Adai ward in Sakaba LGA, was attacked by thieves and they stole our cattle and burnt our grains. We had to run for our dear lives last week,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Kebbi State government is said to be aware of the humanitarian situation in the Emirate, as it said it was doing something about the situation.

According to Kebbi State Commissioner for Information, Tanko-Ayuba, the state government and well-meaning individuals donated food items recently, but more will be done.

“No government or human being will be touched by what is happening in Zuru Emirate,” she said. “The governor is deeply troubled by the development and he is putting in measures to assist the security personnel on ground with more logistics and other support.”

(The Guardian)