Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has announced opening resettlement houses for people internally displaced by the 13-year conflict with Islamist militants in the northeast.
On Thursday, President Buhari visited the Borno state, the epicentre of Nigeria’s Islamist insurgency, which was part of activities to commemorate the U.N.-declared World Humanitarian Day.
Buhari has authorised the construction of 500 resettlement homes in a local Molai village. The President also donated food items, including rice, beans and cooking oil, to thousands of internally displaced people.
Nigerian authorities have further announced a cash transfer for over 5,000 beneficiaries. Most of these beneficiaries are women and people living with disabilities.
Since last year, authorities have intensified efforts to close IDP camps in the state and settle residents in their home villages and towns.
According to the reports in the local media, more than 6,000 housing units have been completed and allocated to beneficiaries.
However, support groups have been raising concerns about the safety of the IDPs. Abba Ali Yarima, the co-founder of the non-profit Green Panthers foundation that focuses on alleviating the impact of climate change, spoke to VOA via phone from Maiduguri.
“People that were relocated are still complaining about access to basic services such as water and health care,” Yarima said. “Then we’re still having a lot of security issues, but because the northwest also has a bit of security concern now, it has overshadowed the one in the northeast. Shocking stories are coming from the fields that we don’t seem to talk about.”
Buhari praised Nigerian troops and said their efforts had made significant progress toward dislodging the terrorists.
Security analyst Senator Iroegbu agreed but said authorities need to remain vigilant and introduce community policing in areas where the IDPs are being resettled.
“There’s a relative progress and stability in the northeast in the counterinsurgency operation, [but the] military can’t effectively do a policing job,” Iroegbu said. “If a territory has been liberated, you cannot completely say it is safe for civilians to relocate. That’s where you have other security agencies come into play, so I don’t know if the federal government is factoring it.”
The United Nations estimates more than 37,000 people have been killed and about 2.8 million displaced by the insurgency, which began 13 years ago.
The war has spread to other parts of the country and even the neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
Yarima said that although attacks persist in the northeast, the focus on the humanitarian impact has declined and shifted to the northwest, where armed gangs have been active.