Benue IPD: Our people want to return to their ancestral homes – SEMA boss

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From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi

Executive Secretary of the Benue State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) Dr Emmanuel Shior has stated that the almost two million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the state were very willing to return to their ancestral homes after being displaced for over four years now.

Recall that in 2018, following the attacks on several communities in some local government areas of the state in which 73 persons were killed in one night, hundreds of thousands of locals who ran from their villages took refuge in various IDP camps across the state.

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Our correspondent observed that since then, continued attacks have also seen to the geometric increase in the number of IDPs and in the increase in the number of camps across the state.

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Speaking on Tuesday, during the monthly routine distribution of food items to IDP camps in the state, the SEMA boss who noted that the IDPs were already tired of their continued stay in camps called on the federal government to put facilities in place to ensure their quick and safe return to their ancestral homes.

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“As for when they (IDPs) will return, we have said earlier that the Benue State Government has instituted a disengagement plan. We have also put in place Benue State Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP). But the plan to return the IDPs is not one that can be rushed because it involves so many things.

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“The federal government would need to help the state government to secure where the Fulanis are occupied. They need to be removed from those communities first of all. The destroyed infrastructure needs to be replaced and there have to be sources of the IDPs livelihood. We have requested the federal government to support the quest of the IDPs to return home.”

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While particularly thanking a team from the Victim Support Foundation (VSF) founded by Gen. T. Y Danjuma (rtd), for visiting the state, Shior said, “We also want to appeal that your superiors take this message back to the founder of VSF that the IDPs appreciate your support to the Benue State government but that is not enough for them.

“What they want is an enduring solution to their situation which is to return back to their ancestral homes which we believe that T.Y Danjuma is in a position to interface with the Federal Government to assist the state government to do that.”

He commended other donor agencies such as the Victim Support Foundation (VSF), Doctors Without Borders, International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), BENGONET, Community Links, Jireh-Doo Foundation among others for their support towards the wellbeing of the IDPs in the state.

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