ISSUES AND CHALLENGES OF INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS IN CAMPS IN ABUJA, NIGERIA 2006-2016
1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
One of the major global challenges in recent times is the increasing number of internally displaced persons (IDPs), particularly in sub-Saharan Africa nations. In Nigeria, the number of internally displaced people is on the increase as a result of Boko Haram insurgency in the North-eastern Nigeria.
Of the total figure of IDPs, the assessment indicates that 13.33 per cent were displaced due to communal clashes, 0.99 per cent by natural disasters and 85.68 per cent as a result of insurgency attacks by Islamists (IOM, 2016). According to IOM (2016) there are 2,241, 484 internally displaced people (IDPs) in Nigeria as of February, 2016.
Nigeria has over experienced incessant cases of internal displacement of people. The cause of this alarming situation is not far-fetched in the Nigerian context. Historically, the country has often experienced incidences or crises leading to the displacement of people from their original inhabitations.
For instance, the civil war that took place in Nigeria between 1967 and 1970 resulted to the displacement of people especially those from the Eastern region of the country. Intra-ethnic conflicts, flooding, erosion, desert encroachment among others has remained a great challenge facing the country.
Sometimes the causes of displacement are complex and often overlapping. According to Ladan (2011), in Nigeria, most of the incidences of internal displacement occur because of violent conflicts with ethnic religious and/or political undertones. Thousands are annually internally displaced as a result of natural disasters including flooding in the North and West, erosion in the East, oil spillage and development projects in the Niger Delta (South-South) (Laden, 2011).
Particularly, insurgency and armed conflicts in Nigeria have caused many casualties and deaths; though there may not be reliable available statistics showing exactly the number of people who lost their lives as a result of armed conflicts in Nigeria.
Today, the most worrying issue is the insurgency by the Boko Haram terrorist group whose religious ideology is to establish Islamic caliphate that is based on Sharia Law in the Northern region. Individuals are displaced when they are forced to move from their shelters, ancestral homes or occupational engagements.
Internal displacement is a form of social change informed by a number of factors, the most common being armed conflicts, natural disasters, famine, development and economic changes. Individuals in this class are people who have been forced to flee their homes, jobs or geographical settlements and communities, perhaps for the very same reasons as refugees.
Reasons for internal displacement range from war, civil conflicts, political strife, to gross human rights abuse (as it is experienced in troubled regions in Nigeria today), though these people move about in their country of birth, where such displacement occurs, without stepping into another nation’s territory (UNESCO, 2014).
Hence, they do not qualify to be addressed as refugees and as such, are not accorded the protection under the same international system as refugees. Furthermore, there is yet to be any known body given the duty of providing aids, succor or assistance to the teeming IDPs, except their home countries, as well as aid workers from the Red Cross or other humanitarian bodies that are privately established.
In Nigeria, it is the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) which often comes to the aid of such displaced persons, establishes camp settlements temporarily for their welfare, and provides them with relief materials to meet their basic immediate/primary needs. Most of the IDPs are living with families in host communities who are themselves poor, thus severely straining already scarce resources as well as aggravating poverty levels (including food and nutrition insecurity) of the affected/host communities (OCHA, 2015).
Birkeland (2009) concluded that those who suffer internal displacement experience loss of means of surviving, and this could deny them access to essentials for comfortable living which range from food, to portable water supply, a place to lay their heads, cloths to cover their nakedness, adequate health care system, as well as a clean environment devoid of diseases.
The right of IDPs to these basic needs of life is tied to the international human rights and humanitarian laws that have been recommended by the United Nations which should be respected at all times, not only during emergency situations, such as communal conflicts or wars leading to internal displacements (Birkeland, 2009).
Despite the efforts made by the Nigerian government, it has been observed that IDPs have continued to face harsh condition especially in the IDP camps. Today, it has been reported that armed groups unleash violent attacks on the IDPs, resulting loss of innocent lives. IDPs camp in Nigeria face insecurity, all forms of exploitation and abuse including rape, camping in isolated congested shelters as well as insecure or inhospitable areas (FRN, 2012).
According to the assessment, Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Taraba states, face food insecurity mainly due to loss of incomes and livelihood caused by the insurgency and displacement (OCHA, 2014). Within the web of contesting vulnerability today, internally displaced person‘s plight is more worrying and precarious (Ekpa & Dahlan, 2015).
While some efforts are made by humanitarian and faith-based organizations and government agencies to address some of the basic needs of IDPs, their vulnerability tend to be increased by barriers to accessing healthcare services, education, employment, economic activities and information for participation in decision making affecting their lives (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2012).
Furthermore, IDPs in Nigeria also face lack of access to justice, whether in relation to cases of human rights violations such as discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities, sexual violence, and deprivation of means of livelihood (FRN, 2012).
Rehabilitation, resettlement and reintegration of IDPs in Nigeria have continued to pose a colossal challenge to the government due to unabated terrorist attacks in the country, particularly in the north-east. This scenario is a pointer to the conclusion that as long as Boko Haram insurgency continues to exist, there is likelihood that the number of IDPs would continue to increase.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The ethno-religious-political crises which have become commonplace in some parts of Nigeria in recent times are largely responsible for the displacement of well over 1.2 million persons as at 2010 according to IDMC (2012).
In March, 2014 alone, more than half a million Nigerians residing and making a living in the city of Maiduguri were displaced (This Day newspaper, Saturday March 15, 2014). Equally, flooding (a natural disaster), bomb explosion (as is presently experienced in North-East Nigeria) and forced eviction have caused further monumental population movements in different parts of the country, especially, the North-Eastern States of the country.
Ajiboye (2013) carried out a study on problems, counseling needs and sources of support for internally displaced persons in Nigeria and found that displacement severely affects the physical, socio-economic and legal safety of IDPs irrespective of their ages and status.
Also, Dada (2006) carried out a study on the problems, counseling needs and coping strategies of institutionalized African refugees in Nigeria and found that health need was a major problem among refugees as well as feeding and shelter
According to the author, refugees required continuous counseling in order to overcome the psychological and mental impact of having to leave their countries of birth in search of refuge in safer countries. Socio-economic problem also constituted hitches for refugees. Also, the Public Relations Nigeria (2012) reported that an estimated 2.1 million persons were internally displaced by flood between July and October 2012.
There are other events (such as fire accident, eviction resulting from development projects, like it happened during the Abuja mega city case as well as Lagos, where peoples’ houses, banks and other business organizations were demolished by the government for road extension, and in most cases, with little or no compensation paid), which have resulted to the displacement of a number of persons across the country.
NEMA equally reported that more than 743,062 Nigerians have been displaced by natural-disaster-induced displacement as well as conflicts (The Punch, October 24, 2014). The drastic increase in the list of problems and challenges, especially as it relates to means of survival or livelihood (occupation) of internally displaced persons has therefore put Nigeria at par with the most affected country in
Africa (i.e. Somalia) with reference to geometric rate at which cases of internal displacements are recorded with little provision to satisfy their basic/immediate needs (IDMC, 2012). Therefore, this study is specifically being aimed at investigating the issues and challenges of Internally Displaced Persons in camps in Abuja, Nigeria.
1.3. AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine the issues and challenges of internally displaced persons in camps in Nigeria. Other specific objectives of the study are:
- To investigate the factors responsible for internal displacement
- To examine the structures and provisions put in place by the government ;
- To interrogate the issues involved in the administration of Internally displaced persons’ camps;
- To examine the challenges in the administration of internally displaced person’s camps.
- RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- What are the factors responsible for internal displacement in Nigeria?
- What are the structures and provisions put in place by the government?
- What are the issues involved in the administration of internally displaced persons’ camps in Abuja?
- What are the challenges in the administration of internally displaced person’s camps?
- RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
- There are no factors responsible for internal displacement in Nigeria.
- There are factors responsible for internal displacement in Nigeria
- There is no significant relationship between issues involved in government administration and effective management of IDPs camp in Nigeria.
- There is a significant relationship between issues involved in government administration and effective management of IDPs camp in Nigeria
- SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The outcome of the study is expected to:
i) Serve as guide to policy makers in the formulation and implementation of policies for the management of internally displaced persons in camps;
ii) Provide information on the roles of international organizations, none—governmental organizations and the government at all levels in ensuring effective administration of internally displaced persons.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on the study of issues and challenges of internally displaced persons in camps in Nigeria: case study of internally displaced persons camp Abuja.
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
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1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Internal Displacement: According to the African Union Convention for Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (Kampala Convention, 2009), “Internal displacement” means “the involuntary or forced movement, evacuation or relocation of persons or groups of persons within internationally recognized state borders”.
Internally Displaced Persons: According to the African Union Convention for Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (Kampala Convention, 2009), the term “Internally Displaced Persons” is defined as
“persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized State border”.
Camps: These are erected sites with non-permanent shelters (e.g. tents) used for the collective and communal accommodation of evacuated or displaced persons. Camps can be planned (i.e. purposely-built sites, completed before or during the influx) or self settled (i.e. set up spontaneously by internally displaced persons or host communities without the support of the government or the humanitarian community).
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