As Nigerian Armed Forces continue their successful onslaught against the Boko Haram insurgents in the troubled North Eastern axis of the country, military authorities have announced the rescue of an octogenarian….

Internally Displaced Persons stand waiting for food at Dikwa Camp, in Borno State in north-eastern Nigeria, on February 2, 2016 Internally Displaced Persons stand waiting for food at Dikwa Camp, in Borno State in north-eastern Nigeria, on February 2, 2016 (AFP Photo/)

• UN, Japan offer supports for IDPs
As Nigerian Armed Forces continue their successful onslaught against the Boko Haram insurgents in the troubled North Eastern axis of the country, military authorities have announced the rescue of an octogenarian who had been a captive of the terrorists for several months. He was among the about 1,000 freed from the insurgent’s enclaves in the last one week.

It was disclosed in Maiduguri yesterday that all the children of the rescued old man who was picked by soldiers during a clearance operation in Shaltimari, were killed when the terrorists captured the village.

This news came on the heels of renewed international concern over the effects of the destruction of human habitation and population in the affected areas as both the United Nations (UN) and the government of Japan pledged more assistance to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

The UN Resident Coordinator, Fatma Samoura told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that the sufferings of the IDPs would soon become a thing of the past and that the global body was doing everything possible to ensure that they resumed their normal lives.

On its part, the Japanese government said it would commit $550,000 to assist Nigeria through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Nigerian Red Cross to give support to 35,000 people in the North East zone of the country who are currently scattered in camps around the zone.

Briefing the media on this development in Abuja yesterday, Momodou Lamin Fye of IFRC said the amount would be utilised to construct shelter, provide suitable water for drinking and domestic use, provide sanitation and hygiene; livelihoods; distribution of household items; and psychosocial support.

Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman in a statement said: “The elderly man, Ibrahim Matuk stated that he suffered untold hardship at the hands of the Boko Haram terrorists who killed all his children while in captivity.” The Army spokesman, however, added that despite the trauma, “the old man is hale and hearty.”

In a related development, the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, while fielding questions from journalists in Maiduguri on “Operation Crackdown” targeted at routing the terrorists said that the operation was focusing on the rescue of the abducted Chibok girls and all the other captives.

He said the military was determined to complete the operation of liberating not only Sambisa forest and freeing the girls but ensuring that every inch of the country’s territory was freed from the fleeing terrorists.

Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj-Gen. Lucky Irabo, however said: “The range of successes being recorded is not without challenges. We have, however, seen those challenges as opportunities. Our leverage on those opportunities has resulted in more successes, including the rescue of over 1,000 people from terrorists’ captivity within the last week in eleven cleared council areas of Borno State.”

Samoura, who is also the UN Humanitarian Coordinator and Resident Representative of UN Development Programme, urged victims of the insurgency not to give up on their current condition.

“For the IDPs, I just want to encourage them that their sufferings will be a thing of the past very soon. I also want to assure them that conducive conditions for their safe return will be put in place so that they can resume their normal lives,” she said.

She disclosed that apart from directing the immediate relocation of the UN Humanitarian Coordination Centre to Borno, she had taken steps to improve access to IDPs through dialogue with humanitarian actors.

According to her, “There is the need to enhance the security of the humanitarian actors based in Maiduguri through more regular flights in and out of Maiduguri. There is also the need to secure the roads leading to the different capitals of the states in the North East region.”

Momodou said the Japanese intervention would focus on three states in the next 10 months while efforts would be made to ensure that those in the camps live in ways that would discourage any outbreak of diseases among them.

IFRC Operations Manager in Nigeria, Samuel Matoka said a recent assessment done by the association indicated that the majority of the people who fled their ancestral homes in the wake of the insurgency are willing to return even if it means returning to nothing or little.

He said 90 percent of houses,farmlands, markets and sanitation facilities in the affected states have been destroyed leaving the people nothing to fall back on.

Head of disaster management and psychosocial coordinator, Andronicus Adeyemo explained that the society had trained volunteers in Chibok community on psychosocial support and counseling to augment other medical attention they might require.

He said the experience of the association in the community indicated that medical personnel were overstretched and overwhelmed with the number of cases they had to attend to as the abduction of the girls had increased the incidence of high blood pressure and other ailments among their parents.

According to him, ‘’Red Cross was the first to trace Chibok community itself when the abduction happened and we have given the people emotional and social support through lay counseling, trauma management and cases that have to do with sexual and gender-based violence were referred to specialists after initial counseling.

“There was a number of people that were captured for sex slavery by Boko Haram and they gave birth to children and as such those children became outcasts in the community.’’

Adeyemo said it was only in Maiduguri that there are trained psychiatrists who attend to victims that had suffered mental trauma as a result of the happenings in the North East and lamented that medical personnel had become blanket care-givers where a gynaecologist would be the same person that would attend to psychological trauma cases.

It is not the responsibility of Red Cross to build health facilities, we can only fill the gap, we are auxiliary to government and we are expecting the government too to do more to fill more gap with whatever other disaster management organisations are doing,” he added.

Source:The Guardian Nigeria