The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the United Nations High Commission For Refugees (UNHCR) have yesterday, expressed worry over rampant sexual and gender-based violence in most Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in Borno and therefore called for an end to the menace.
They also frowned at the allegations of forced labour for some seedlings donated by some International Non-governmental Organisations (INGO) at Pulka in Gwoza local government area and Ngala in Borno State.
These were contained in the recommendations to improve human rights and humanitarian protection of IDPs in Borno State presented to Kashim Shettima, the governor of Borno State by the executive secretary of National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu, Esq after a two-day workshop on human rights and humanitarian activities held in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
Mr Ojukwu said: “The Commission, in collaboration with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), notes with gratitude the numerous support by the state government to all humanitarian actors and the line ministries to implement their human rights and humanitarian mandate in your state.
“We are pleased with the efforts of the state government to provide for the IDPs especially considering the fact that some of them originate from other states but are nevertheless citizens of Nigeria. We applaud your sense of generosity and hospitality in Borno State.
“After two days of deliberations by human rights and humanitarian actors in your state (supported by the UNHCR), all of us have acknowledged your great efforts in the state and have agreed to make the following recommendations to improve the protection of IDPs and other vulnerable populations of concern in Borno State.
“The recommendations: “There’s is need for state government to continue to improve funding of humanitarian activities in the state. In this regard, it is useful to bring Your Excellency’s attention to the fact that there are opportunities for funding support to the state government.
“Accordingly, the capacity of state agencies to raise funds to help them in the interventions can be improved. There is need to improve infrastructure, capacity and funding for human rights and humanitarian activities. The UN, the EU and other development partners can assist if there is political will to access these forms of assistance.
“Sexual and Gender-Based Violence are rampant in the IDP camps and host communities. There is need to strengthen our SGBV response mechanism. The police, ministry of Justice, Women Affairs, Borno State Emergency Agency (SEMA) and other ministries responsible for this should be assisted and given a wake-up call to improve the protection level.
“Provision of land for IDPs to help them fend for themselves. The women should also be considered in this regard since there are a lot of female-headed households. There were also allegations of forced labour for seedlings donated by some INGOs in Pulka and Ngala. The state government is encouraged to look into these allegations.
“There are reports of food and non food items not reaching some IDP Camps for over six months. Efforts should be made to increase supply of these items to the Persons of Concern (PoC) and to stop cases of diversion; settling the hospital bills of referrals to bridge the gap in the healthcare of IDPs and also lack/shortage of drugs in the camp clinics. The state government can approach the WHO on this.
“The role of traditional rulers and communities on SGBV –there is need for sensitisation and training of the traditional rulers, victims and the members of the communities. We have also heard report of well over 300 unaccompanied children in Garanam, Alajiri and Diape communities. The state government is kindly encouraged to mandate appropriate agencies to investigate and take necessary action.
“Role of security personnel in SGBV should be emphasised. Also, the state government is encouraged to provide shelter and psychosocial support to victims of SGBV. The state government is kindly encouraged to look into bills criminalising stigmatisation of victims of SGBV and other related issues; Female-headed households should be helped to cope with their challenges,” he added.
He further called for capacity building/sensitisation for traditional/religious leaders, women leaders and councilors on their responsibility to protect especially at the grassroots level.
Continuing he said: “We have also heard reports of some IDPs Camps without schools, especially Dalori Camp 1 and 2, Farm Center Camp in Jere LGA. It was also reported that there was no presence of government teachers in Benishik Camp in Kaga LGA. Your Excellency is kindly urged to channel efforts into providing schools in the camps where there are none, redeployment of teachers to the affected camp, sensitisation of parents on the need to send their wards to school and a waiver for IDP children who attend public schools.
“There is need to reduce post conflict crises already brewing in Bama, Konduga and Gwoza LGAs due to reported cases of people selling other people’s houses and land before they returned from their places of displacement. This, if not properly handled, can degenerate into further conflicts in the near future if durable solution issues like this are not well settled as people return to their places of habitual residence.”