Aisha Hudu, an Internally Displaced Person from Gwoza, Borno State, looked pale, devastated, and famished when LEADERSHIP Sunday visited. Sitting pensively on a concrete brick looking after her twins. She was staring at a particular place in front of her. Sadly, it was her demolished makeshift tent,leadership report.
Sadly, Aisha gave birth to twins on the eve of the demolition sequel to the tension caused by the demolition exercise by the Federal Capital Territory Administration.
LEADERSHIP Sunday reported that the camp was demolished on the 21st of December 2022 by the FCTA citing an upsurge in crime and criminality.
However, as of 12:45 pm, Aisha, who is a breastfeeding mother had not eaten breakfast and did not have any hope of eating as she must join the long queue to use the cooking wares to prepare her meal.
Just like Aisha, many IDPs looked pale, hungry, and waiting patiently for their turn to cook as they have no choice but to use the available cooking wares, while children, mostly infants, were on their mothers’ chests, who could hardly eat three square meals per day, even as a breastfeeding mother.
In an interaction with LEADERSHIP Sunday, Aisha tried to hold back tears as she lamented that her baby’s health was deteriorating amid the poor living conditions.
She specifically appealed to Borno State governor Babagana Zulum and well-meaning Nigerians to come to her aid as she appealed for succour.
Aisha lamented that she doesn’t have baby food, clothes, and medicines. She states that one of the twins is currently sick.
“It is painful to be living in this deplorable condition. I do not like where I am staying. I want the government to come to our rescue,” she said.
Similarly, Hafsatu Iliyasu who delivered on the eve of the demolition, lamented that since her delivery she has been feeling unwell.
She, however, urged Nigerians to come to their aid. She said she was not in the camp during the demolition, hence all her belongings were demolished.
Hafsatu also cried out for government assistance to ameliorate their plight.
Lamenting their plight since December 21, 2022 when the camp was demolished, Hafsatu said the IDPs now sleep in open spaces.
She added that they resort to making nylon tents and burning firewood to keep their children warm at night.
Occasionally, Hafsatu who would fold and unfold her hands, letting out long, drawn-out sighs said she is not feeling encouraged by the whole situation.
LEADERSHIP Sunday reports that over three thousand inhabitants of Durumi IDP camp made up of 330 households, 70 percent of whom are women and children from Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe States, displaced by insurgents in the Northeast between 2012 and 2014.
The chairman, Durumi IDPs Camp, Ibrahim Ahmadu called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the federal government to come to their aid amid the demolition of the camp.
Ahmadu also called on the federal government, and the Borno State government to come to their aid.
He urged the FCDA to discontinue the demolition exercise as the camp does not harbour criminals as alleged.
Ahmadu said the camp authorities alongside security agencies have apprehended 17 Boko Haram members and recovered two AK47 rifles and locally made guns in the camp.
He said when he approached the Commander of the operation, he told him that they should evacuate their belongings insisting they are going to demolish the camp.
Ahmadu said, “I asked him on whose order they were coming to demolish our place because the government is aware we are staying here.
“He told me to go and meet the Minister. I felt they would have finished demolition before returning from seeing the minister because there were about four bulldozers at the camp.”
Amadu said they have been working together with the Department of State Security Service (DSS), the military, and other security agencies to purge the camp of any criminal element.
He disclosed that about 17 Boko Haram members have been caught in the camp and handed over to security agencies. He added that three AK-47 and local pistols have also been recovered and handed over to the security agencies.
The woman leader of the Camp, Mrs Iliayatu Ayuba, recalled that she cried so much amid the demolition exercise.
“I don’t know why they decided to do this to us, government knows us, Commissioner for Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons knows us and they have been coming to the camp, they never gave us any information that they were coming to demolish because of the terrorists that were living in the camp with us.
“If they had informed us earlier we would have made better plans, they came and demolished everything, women and children are sleeping outside in the cold weather.
“One of the women even delivered a baby before her time after she went into labour because of the demolition, after I delivered Hafsatu’s baby, the baby didn’t cry until after an hour. Now the baby and the mother sleep in the cold. The woman cried and asked me where she would go with her baby.”
She noted for several years the government has been promising to relocate them, which they are yet to fulfill.
“I beg them in the name of God to fulfill this promise, we are human beings, we are Nigerians, where do they want us to go? The government is taking care of the refugees more than us, they can find a place where they are putting the refugees to keep us too.
“As of today, a lot of killings are still going on in Gwoza council. I was there three months ago, it was the military that escorted me to and fro my community, as of two days ago, they still killed people there, so where do we go now,” she stated.
On his part, the spokesperson of the IDPs, Idris Ibrahim, appealed to the Inspector General of Police, the director of Security Federal Capital Development Area (FCDA), Director of DSS FCT Command, to reach out to them.
The country director, ActionAid Nigeria, Ene Obi, addressing issues arising from the demolition of Durumi IDP Camp said the demolition took place without warning to the IDP camp residents or the option of relocation to another location.
“Some weeks ago, the Commissioner of the Refugee commission visited to discuss a possible relocation without a fixed timeline before the infamous demolition took place.
“The IDPs currently cannot go back to their various homes as some of their homes are still under attack by insurgents.
“Women and children currently sleep in open spaces, some with mats or blankets and others without. Starvation and hunger now prevail due to the loss of their saved foodstuffs, and cooking utensils because of the unplanned demolition.”
She said there is an urgent need for psychosocial and health support for traumatised residents.
“The IDPs’ belongings are now exposed to theft and to the same criminal elements the federal government was seeking to abolish,” she said.
A popular maxim by Mathew Desmond states that “Housing is absolutely essential to human flourishing. Without stable shelter, it all falls apart” however, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Durumi Federal Capital Territory, Abuja seems to be facing multifaceted problems including Limited access to health care, Problems getting enough food, trouble staying safe, violence, stress, unsanitary living conditions and exposure to severe weather.
Sadly, an overwhelming majority of displaced persons residing in the camp are women and children. This is even as the sad realities foisted upon them amid the conflict have robbed them of their homes, dreams, and importantly, hope.
Over the years, the killings and high levels of destruction resulting from the insurgency of Boko Haram in many cities across the North East of Nigeria had forced hundreds of thousands of people, mostly women and children to flee from their villages and towns.
This is even as many of these children witnessed how their parents and relatives were ruthlessly killed, and their houses burnt to ashes.
They lost everything they had, triggering suffering, hunger, exhaustion, and sicknesses like cholera and typhoid. In order to escape the unimaginable violence of the terrorist group, the people hid in mountains and caves for days before arriving at the IDP Camp, Durumi.