THE EDUCATOR - March 20

Benue IDP camps record 120 births, 15 deaths  

Health workers have confirmed 120 births and 15 deaths in the eight Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Benue state since the Fulani herdsmen invasion of the state in January this year till date.


This came to the fore when Governor Samuel Ortom on Monday, commenced tour of some of the IDP camps in Guma local government area of the state.Speaking with newsmen after visiting the IDPs camps in Abagena, LGEA Primary School, Daudu, United Nations High Commission for Refugees and Immigrant Persons (UNHCR) shelter, Daudu and the Gbajimba IDP camp, Governor Ortom lamented that there are over 170,000 displaced persons in the state at the moment.

The Governor who disclosed that over 50 communities had been attacked across Logo, Guma, Makurdi, Agatu and Okpokwu local government areas of the state added that the continued herdsmen attacks on communities in the state had caused increase in the number of IDPs who daily throng the camps to further swell the already bloated number.

He maintained that although security men have been stationed in strategic locations in the state, the entire communities were still deserted because the herdsmen were still coming to attack and kill people in the state.

“The entire place is deserted and nobody is here. Two kilometers from here is Nasarawa state. We have stationed security men here yet nobody is coming. This is the kind of

security situation you find here. The security men are trying but there is room for improvement. You can see there is so much fear for people to come back.
“There are more than 50 communities attacked in Logo, Guma, Agatu, Makurdi and Okpokwu. As we speak, there are still IDPs coming to camp because of fear.

Security men are not enough to police the entire areas affected by the invasion. There are still cases of those who attempted to go back to their villages and they were killed.”These people (Fulani herdsmen) come as mercenaries. The people are willing to come back but they are afraid.

The only way to come back is when these areas are secured. Even the security men are not secured. That is why we are asking the federal government to upgrade the exercise Ayem Akpatuma to a full operation. These people are terrorists,” Ortom said.He said it was as a result of this predicament that he had taken it upon himself to go round all the camps and pray with displaced persons to give them hope and assure them that they were not alone.

“We decided to go round and pray today to raise the hope of the people. I felt despite the fact that they are displaced, we should give them hope and assure them that they are not forgotten. We are with them.”

On his part, Executive Secretary, State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Emmanuel Shior who confirmed that the state had recorded 120 births and eight deaths said although it had not been easy to cater for over 170,000 displaced persons, the state government had been doing its best to ensure that food and all necessary needs are being met.

“It is not easy taking care of 170,000 IDPs. Benue government has done so much in providing food and other needs. Fulani have continued to kill our people and we have continued to witness influx of more IDPs. That is why we are calling on all well meaning Nigerians to come to the aid of the state.”

Two nurses who spoke with our correspondent including Grace Kon and Priscilla Tser at Abagena and LGEA camps respectively disclosed that the common ailments in the camps were cough, vomiting, diarrhea and hernia.