Internally Displaced Persons in Nigeria and Matters Arising

The occurrences of disasters often result in displacement of persons.  Therefore, the global increases in the number and magnitudes of disasters have directly led to increasing human displacements. The Geneva based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre estimates that between October 2010 and October 2011 about 42 million people were displaced worldwide and 27.5 million by conflict and violence.

Africa is said to be the worst hit by the number of the displaced from conflicts and violence, estimated to stand at about 11.1 million persons. Globally, the largest IDP populations can be found in Colombia, the DRC, Iraq, Sudan and Azerbaijan each with IDP populations of over one million. Though there can be no exact figure on the total survey on internal displacement, these statistics are not static, but constantly on the increase.

Nigeria has also had the cause to contend with the issues of internally displaced persons who were affected by disasters in different parts of the country. However, the number of those affected by human induced disasters far out weight those from natural circumstances such as floods, landslides, ocean surges, fire, etc. The last period of about twenty years ago witnessed a serious number of persons displaced by conflicts and violence.

Displaced persons are always confronted with various challenges which include the loss of their livelihoods, frustrations, abuses, threats of assaults, etc. In displacement, some of the affected usually think of taking cover or prefer to seek assistance in neighboring countries which qualifies them as refugees. But those that remain within the country of their citizenship are regarded as being Internally Displaced.   

In 2009, African nations under the auspices of African Union took the bold steps to tackle the disturbing trend through a convention held in Kampala, Uganda and agreed on a number of issues for the protection and assistance of the IDPs. The objectives, among others were mainly to promote and strengthen regional and national measures to prevent or mitigate, prohibit and eliminate the root causes of Internal Displacement as well as provide for durable solutions. Resolutions of the Convention, like other international instruments required the members states that signed up to ratify through their appropriate national organs and institute the implementation accordingly. 

Fortunately for Nigeria, before the coming of the convention, the government had already established agencies with responsibilities on the management of displaced persons in the country. National Emergency Management Agency has the responsibilities on the management of disasters in all its ramifications including the care for displaced persons. There also existed the National Commission for Refugee that handles international trans-border displacements or precisely issues on refugees.
Over the years, NEMA has been very active in the management of the IDPs situations. Arising from the fact that disaster management is all about saving lives and minimizing losses, the Agency has always been at the forefront of providing assistance to the displaced persons. It is worthy of note that improper handling of human displacement can also be tantamount to disaster.

Management of IDPs is as complex and technical much as being an integral part of disaster response activities. It goes beyond mere relief distribution. With the adoption of disaster risk reduction approaches to disaster management, issues concerning IDPs are fully integrated into disaster planning, mitigation, response and recovery. 

Since 1999 when NEMA was established, the Agency has been up and doing in handling and managing the issues of displaced in the country. To achieve this among its mandates, it has developed and facilitated procedures, system and guideline for assistance and protection of IDPs in Nigeria through documents that include
a)   The National Disaster Response Plan approved by the Federal Executive Council in 2002
b)   Search and Rescue and Epidemic Evacuation Plan signed by 44 Chief Executives
c)   National Disaster Management Framework
d)   National Contingency Plan.

As apex coordination organ of the federal government on matters of disaster management in all its ramifications, NEMA establishes working relationship with the relevant stakeholders that are called up during the time of needs. Therefore, the agency serves as the secretariat for emergency responses that harmonizes and fine tunes all aspects of disaster management found in the mandates of the other organizations. This informs the existing synergy that NEMA has established with stakeholders which include the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, Federal Road Safety Corps, Federal Fire Service, Military, Police, Red Cross Society and Nigerian Immigration Service among others.

In realization that every disaster or human displacement occurs in a particular state or local government area, the agency has been very vigorous in advocating that all states government should establish their own emergency management agencies to compliment the roles of NEMA in their areas. The objective, as contain in the NEMA Establishment Acts is for the states to also be involved in the management of such situations in their localities and refer only cases that overwhelms their capacities to the federal government through the agency.    

NEMA, through its mandates and experiences has been handling matters on disasters in line with the required structures and layers. It established inter-agency relationship and partnership across the federal, states and local governments to efficiently and effectively facilitate assistance to disaster victims. For instance, in addressing situations of the displaced persons that moved into Bauchi State, the agency partnered the state government in the resettlement of those that opted to remain there after the crises that displaced them. Same was the case of the people that were displaced by the recent post election crises, during which NEMA intervene to stabilize their conditions, assist them back to their homes but those with special needs considered to be within resources of the states were later handed over to the respective states governments.

Director General NEMA Alhaji Muhammad Sani Sidi has given the indication to even strengthen the response of the agency to disasters issues in the country including matters of human displacement. In the human capacity development programmes for the staff, special attentions are now given to the care for the displaced persons. He has also emphasized on timely intervention, proper record keeping and qualitative assistance until the victims fully recovers.


Manzo Ezekiel
[email protected]

Internally Displaced Persons in Nigeria and Matters Arising

By Manzo Ezekiel

 

The occurrences of disasters often result in displacement of persons. Therefore, the global increases in the number and magnitudes of disasters have directly led to increasing human displacements. The Geneva based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre estimates that between October 2010 and October 2011 about 42 million people were displaced worldwide and 27.5 million by conflict and violence.

 

Africa is said to be the worst hit by the number of the displaced from conflicts and violence, estimated to stand at about 11.1 million persons. Globally, the largest IDP populations can be found in Colombia, the DRC, Iraq, Sudan and Azerbaijan each with IDP populations of over one million. Though there can be no exact figure on the total survey on internal displacement, these statistics are not static, but cons
tantly on the increase.

 

Nigeria has also had the cause to contend with the issues of internally displaced persons who were affected by disasters in different parts of the country. However, the number of those affected by human induced disasters far out weight those from natural circumstances such as floods, landslides, ocean surges, fire, etc. The last period of about twenty years ago witnessed a serious number of persons displaced by conflicts and violence.

 

Displaced persons are always confronted with various challenges which include the loss of their livelihoods, frustrations, abuses, threats of assaults, etc. In displacement, some of the affected usually think of taking cover or prefer to seek assistance in neighboring countries which qualifies them as refugees. But those that remain within the country of their citizenship are regarded as being Internally Displaced.

 

In 2009, African nations under the auspices of African Union took the bold steps to tackle the disturbing trend through a convention held in Kampala, Uganda and agreed on a number of issues for the protection and assistance of the IDPs. The objectives, among others were mainly to promote and strengthen regional and national measures to prevent or mitigate, prohibit and eliminate the root causes of Internal Displacement as well as provide for durable solutions. Resolutions of the Convention, like other international instruments required the members states that signed up to ratify through their appropriate national organs and institute the implementation accordingly.

 

Fortunately for Nigeria, before the coming of the convention, the government had already established agencies with responsibilities on the management of displaced persons in the country. National Emergency Management Agency has the responsibilities on the management of disasters in all its ramifications including the care for displaced persons. There also existed the National Commission for Refugee that handles international trans-border displacements or precisely issues on refugees.

Over the years, NEMA has been very active in the management of the IDPs situations. Arising from the fact that disaster management is all about saving lives and minimizing losses, the Agency has always been at the forefront of providing assistance to the displaced persons. It is worthy of note that improper handling of human displacement can also be tantamount to disaster.

 

Management of IDPs is as complex and technical much as being an integral part of disaster response activities. It goes beyond mere relief distribution. With the adoption of disaster risk reduction approaches to disaster management, issues concerning IDPs are fully integrated into disaster planning, mitigation, response and recovery.

 

Since 1999 when NEMA was established, the Agency has been up and doing in handling and managing the issues of displaced in the country. To achieve this among its mandates, it has developed and facilitated procedures, system and guideline for assistance and protection of IDPs in Nigeria through documents that include

a) The National Disaster Response Plan approved by the Federal Executive Council in 2002

b) Search and Rescue and Epidemic Evacuation Plan signed by 44 Chief Executives

c) National Disaster Management Framework

d) National Contingency Plan.

 

As apex coordination organ of the federal government on matters of disaster management in all its ramifications, NEMA establishes working relationship with the relevant stakeholders that are called up during the time of needs. Therefore, the agency serves as the secretariat for emergency responses that harmonizes and fine tunes all aspects of disaster management found in the mandates of the other organizations. This informs the existing synergy that NEMA has established with stakeholders which include the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, Federal Road Safety Corps, Federal Fire Service, Military, Police, Red Cross Society and Nigerian Immigration Service among others.

 

In realization that every disaster or human displacement occurs in a particular state or local government area, the agency has been very vigorous in advocating that all states government should establish their own emergency management agencies to compliment the roles of NEMA in their areas. The objective, as contain in the NEMA Establishment Acts is for the states to also be involved in the management of such situations in their localities and refer only cases that overwhelms their capacities to the federal government through the agency.

 

NEMA, through its mandates and experiences has been handling matters on disasters in line with the required structures and layers. It established inter-agency relationship and partnership across the federal, states and local governments to efficiently and effectively facilitate assistance to disaster victims. For instance, in addressing situations of the displaced persons that moved into Bauchi State, the agency partnered the state government in the resettlement of those that opted to remain there after the crises that displaced them. Same was the case of the people that were displaced by the recent post election crises, during which NEMA intervene to stabilize their conditions, assist them back to their homes but those with special needs considered to be within resources of the states were later handed over to the respective states governments.

 

Director General NEMA Alhaji Muhammad Sani Sidi has given the indication to even strengthen the response of the agency to disasters issues in the country including matters of human displacement. In the human capacity development programmes for the staff, special attentions are now given to the care for the displaced persons. He has also emphasized on timely intervention, proper record keeping and qualitative assistance until the victims fully recovers.

 

Manzo Ezekiel

[email protected]

 

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