The Benue State Emergency Management Agency (BSEMA), on Tuesday, debunked rumours that state government has closed down Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in the state.
The Executive Secretary, Benue State Emergency Management Agency (BSEMA), Emmanuel Shior stated this while distributing assorted relief materials to IDPs in the state preparatory to Christmas celebrations.
Speaking to journalists at the SEMA’s headquarter, in Makurdi, Shior explained that the head of Operations Whirl Stroke, (OPWS) in Benue, General Adeyemi Yekini had approached Governor Samuel Ortom requesting the closure of IDP camps in Benue.
“So the Governor invited him (Yekini) and other stakeholders like the Civil Society Organisations, domestic and international NGOs to a state security meeting.
“So at that meeting, we advised that you don’t close the camps because you are thinking that security has improved in some places.
“From the humanitarian perspective, you have to put certain measures in place before you can ask them to go back.”
Shior recalled that the federal government had visited Benue through the Vice President with a pledge to construct housing units in three Local governments in the state; Logo, Guma and Agatu, as part of resettlement arrangements but since then, nothing has happened.
He said state government has donated a large parcel of land for that purpose and that the head of OPWS was told that until that arrangement to resettle the IDPs was concluded and the displaced persons resettled, the camps cannot be closed.
According to him, “Most of the people in the camps have no homes. Their homes were destroyed during the attacks. So if you close down the camps simply because you think there is relative peace in the hinterland, where are they returning back to?
He insisted that these concerns have to be sorted out before the camps can be closed down.
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Speaking on the relief materials, Shior recalled that the distribution had started last week with those at Anyiin and Ugba IDPs camps, in Logo Local Government Area.
“Today, we are continuing the distribution to the IDP camps in Abagana, in Makurdi, Daudu1 and 2 as well as Gbajimba, all in Guma local government area.
Shior said the items included bags of rice, cartons of yams flour, condiments, soaps, detergents, other toiletries as well as clothes adding that the items were part of government’s efforts to improve the standard of living for IDPs especially during this Christmas period.
“There are many bags of clothes. Remember this is Christmas period and it is important that we share out clothes to the IDPs so that they can use them to prepare for Christmas”, he added.