Untold story of IDPs

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THERE are Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camps in various parts of Nigeria. These IDPs are not the perpetuators of the mayhem that led to their displacement, but they are the proverbial grass that suffers when two elephants fight. They are the ones who have to pay the price for crises, and away from the comfort of their homes. The crises, wherever they lived, have displaced them, endangered their lives, they end up in uncomfortable environments.

Media reports of IDPs, from my experience, have been unfair in reporting IDPs. The standard of living in many of these camps and the conditions of the IDPs are portrayed to be perfect, or the IDPs are well taken care; it is far from the truth. The cases where the conditions in the camp are highlighted are few.

In one of my recent visits to one of the camps and from the testimony of some others who had visited and also reports from some of the IDPs, I concluded that the IDPs are in dire need of proper care, at least till they are able to find their feet.

They have numerous areas of needs, some of which are not physical. I list some of them that I consider most important –

· Security

In some of the camps, there are no security personnel and people go in and out of the camps as they please. This could attract yet another disaster to the campers. Some of the IDPs are afraid that those who created their situation, or new enemies could attack them.

At least, there should be security details assigned to each of the camps, who would ensure that their lives and property are safe.

Security details assigned to the camps should also be warned against abusing these persons in their care; physically, verbally and sexually.

· Provision of basic needs

Some of the basic needs of these campers include potable water, shelter, food, clothing and healthcare. Provisions should be made in all the camps so these IDPs can at least be in good health while they battle the trauma that comes with being displaced.

· Skill acquisition

While IDPs were at their former homes, they had jobs and handcrafts, which they were involved in to earn a living. After the crisis and movement to the IDP camps, they become jobless, depending on handouts to survive.

Government could explore the skills that IDPs have to ensure that they earn a living. Most of the services government contracts out can be undertaken by IDPs, including the internal security management of the camps. There are suggests that if they are allocated lands, they can farm to feed their families, and earn incomes too.

· Power

Many of the IDPs live in darkness as they have no source of power and one can imagine a life without power. Many things could go wrong. Electricity as part of the security measures in the camp is important, particularly as most of the crimes that could take place in the camps could be at night. They also need electricity to maintain a semblance of normality.

All these and more are the MAJOR needs of these IDPs, but the media often report impression that portray IDPs are being wee catered for.

We are the media, we are one people, and we should all lend our voice towards making life less unbearable for IDPs.

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