Art and Culture

Hell for IDPs in Jibia Camp

todayJuly 2, 2022 1

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For the internally displaced persons in Jibia Local Government Area of Katsina State, it is better to go back and die in their ravaged villages than die in the camp under extreme hardship and hunger, writes Francis Sardauna

Following sustained attacks by terrorists resulting in loss of innocent lives and property, residents of over seven communities in Jibia Local Government Area of Katsina State were forced to abandon their ancestral homes. The over 15,000 victims, who were sacked by the rampaging terrorists from their ancestral communities of Kwari, Zango, Shimfida,Tsauni, Far Faru, Tsambe and Gurbin Magariya of Jibia Local Government, are taking refuge at Government Girls’ Secondary School, Jibia, the headquarters of the LG.

Predictably, the number of victims keep growing by the day as there seems to be no end to the series of attacks that the Jibia Local Government had witnessed, not to talk of those who lost their lives and the over 150 kidnapped in communities across the local government who are still languishing in different terrorists’ enclaves in the state.

When THISDAY visited the nondescript camp, the IDPs were all clustered in different segments and life has not been easy for them as they clocked 100 days in the makeshift camp without seeing their homes.

They looked pale, hungry, waiting for the next handouts, while children, mostly infants, were on their mothers’ chests, who could hardly eat three square meals per day, for breast milk. Snake bites, hunger and communication diseases such as diarrhea are threatening their lives.

Sadly, no fewer than eight children, who were among the 80 passengers loaded in a bus while fleeing their Shimfida community, lost their lives on their way to Jibia town. Investigation further revealed that 15 persons also died as a result of hypertension and depression in the camp within four months.

No fewer than 35 pregnant women were also said to have given birth in the camp within the period under review. However, the concern of the displaced persons is for the government to restore security in their ravaged communities to enable them to return to their ancestral homes.

The chairman of the camp, Sa’ad Salisu, explained that it was better for them to go back and die in their homes rather than die in the camp under untold hardship, hunger and communicable diseases.

Salisu, who was sacked from his Shimfida community in March, 2022, took refuge in the camp along with his two wives and nine children, said: “I cannot wait to return home. We are waiting for the government to restore security in the area.

“There are no toilet facilities, no water enough for the population here, no money to seek emergency medical attention for our wives and the children when they fall sick, and our kids are not in school in the camp.”

He added: “From the Shimfida community alone, we have 8,000 displaced persons that are in this camp. In Far Faru, we have over 7,000 and about 200 are from the Zango community but not all of us are sleeping here because of lack of mattresses, water, mats and mosquito nets.

“We have over 3,000 children in this camp who left their communities with school uniforms but now they cannot go to school because the government hasn’t provided school for them in the camp.

“15 people, mostly women, died when we were camping at the Central Primary School, Jibia, as a result of hypertension. Eight children died while fleeing Shimfida to Jibia town in March this year. Also, 35 women gave birth in the camp.”

Salisu, who is also the Chairman of Shimfida Youth Development Association, called on the state government to restore security in their communities to enable them return and continue with their farming activities.

Another victim, Sa’adatu Ibrahim, who her husband was killed in Shimfida community during the March invasion by the terrorists and left her with 11 children, urged government to deploy more security to the affected areas to curb the activities of the hoodlums and allow the displaced persons to go back home, especially now that farming activities is commencing.

Sa’adatu, who could not control her emotions while speaking with THISDAY, said: “I prefer to go back home and die there rather than what we are going through here. We can’t eat three square meals. No water and enough toilet facilities here.

“Snake bite has been our major challenge here. Even last week a snake bit my neighbour and is currently in the hospital. We have killed more than 10 snakes in this camp. We are living in fear because there are no security personnel here.”

However, the Chairman of Jibia Local Government Area, Bishir Sabi’u, said the state government had provided adequate relief materials including food items to the IDPs.

According to him, “15 bags of rice are being cooked for them in the camp daily. I do give them (IDPs) N200,000 weekly to support their daily activities in the camp.”

He explained that the state government has commenced the reconstruction of Shimfida community and had deployed adequate security personnel ranging from the military, police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the newly recruited vigilante members to forestall normalcy in the area.

He, however, lamented that 150 people, including children, that were abducted by terrorists in different communities in the local government are still in captivity. He added that several communities within the local government are under siege and severe attacks by the rampaging terrorists.

Jibia is one of the frontline local governments in Katsina State which had been in the grips of terrorist attacks for years. Many communities have deserted the area, having been over-run by the terrorists who daily traumatise residents especially women and children.

“With these interventions and reconstruction, residents of the Shimfida community will soon go back to their community and continue with their farming activities. In fact, in the next two weeks they will go back.”

Villagers in their thousands have been displaced and are currently trying to put their lives together in internally displaced persons camps within and outside the state including Maradi State in Niger Republic.

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