ECOWAS donates food to Displaced persons in Borno

Rebecca Mu’azu, Maiduguri

Mr. de Souza said that the money and other items donated would provide shelter and assist in tackling malnutrition, other health challenges and sanitation in the IDPs camps.

The West African Regional Bloc, ECOWAS, has donated food items and money to the Borno State government.

This is its contribution to the rehabilitation of displaced people and the reconstruction of places destroyed by the Boko Haram sect.

The ECOWAS Commission President, Mr. Marcel Alain de Souza, made the donation during a one-day humanitarian visit to IDP camps in Maiduguri.

Mr. de Souza handed over a cheque of one million Dollars to the State Governor, Kashim Shettima and another 400 thousand Dollars to the International Committee of the Red Cross, in Maiduguri.

Needs of IDps
“It is in response to the needs of the displaced population and victims of the insurgency in the North East,’’ he said.

He said he was deeply concerned about the situation of the IDPs in the state.

According to Mr. de Souza, “ECOWAS is solidly behind the Borno State Government, to give them all the necessary support in line with their efforts towards the displaced people.’’

Borno government commended
He commended the efforts of the Borno State Government for the reconstruction going on in the state, despite stories of destructions it suffered from the Boko Haram insurgency.

Providing shelter
“We’ll do our best to support the people of Nigeria. We came here today to give our humble contribution in terms of food from ECOWAS Reserve and a small amount of money for contribution for people in terms of shelter, support and in everything. But we make all our effort to be able to come here, see you, visit you and share with you the concern of the IDPs and refugees here in the north of Nigeria,” Mr. de Souza said.

On his way to the Government House from the airport, the ECOWAS Commission President said he observed the impressive development taking place in the state.

“It is my first time to come here with ECOWAS Delegation and I am now concerting that you are making a lot of progress in terms of recovery. The markets were destroyed and burnt, the schools, the same situation. And we are seeing the hard work you are doing in trying to build again. You have been taken challenges in faith and this is very, very good,” Mr. de Souza said.

Governor Shettima said the money should be given to the National Emergency Management Agency, who would be in charge of procuring the needed items for the internally displaced people.

He commended ECOWAS and other international partners and UN Agencies for their kind gestures.

Governor Shettima however, said that assistance should also be given to the displaced people living in communities in Maiduguri.

“This gesture will go a long way in addressing the food security challenges we are facing in the North-east sub-region and Borno in particular….. Believe me, one million dollars at current rate of exchange amounts to a huge sum of money. It’s over four hundred million naira. Even at the official exchange rate is about three hundred and fifty six million naira or thereabout. …..All the IDPs living in the IDP Camps in Maiduguri may number not more than one hundred and eight thousand, maximum,’’ he said.

“Even in the satellite towns Monguno, Dikwa, Bama, Banki, Gwoza, Pulka, they may not number more than three hundred thousand. So the total number of IDPs living in camps in Borno State, maximum, may not be more than five hundred thousand…But here in Maiduguri alone, we have over one million people, living in rented houses, within the bosom of the African extension family system. Even in the best of time…. Unfortunately, the NGOs all have a fixation on the IDP Camps. There is the need for greater attention to be paid to the IDPs living within the host communities with families, with relations and so on. They are in far worst states,” the Borno State Governor said.

The ECOWAS Commission President also visited the Bakassi IDP Camps, which is accommodating about 21 thousand displaced persons.

He was also at the storehouse of the National Emergency Management Agency, where a symbolic handover of the food items was performed.

The Deputy Governor, Usman Durkwa received the food items on behalf of the Borno State Government.

The Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency, Mallam Sani Sidi, thanked the ECOWAS for the contribution and pledged that the money and items would be put to good use.

Mercy Chukwudiebere