The Bring Back Our Girls group, BBOG, which on Sunday marked 1000 days since the abduction of over 200 girls from Chibok, Borno State, on Monday staged a protest to draw attention to the rate of malnutrition of internally displaced persons in the north-east.
The protest, which had a low turnout, had scores of police officers escorting the group from the Unity Fountain where the walk commenced to the Presidential Villa gate.
Speaking during the protest, the group’s leader, Obi Ezekwesili, said that the country risks losing two generations at the IDP camps.
“We risk losing two generations of Nigerians. There are generations of toddlers that are being born daily at IDP camps that are not getting the basic services they need, they will grow up completely dislocated both mentally, physically and emotionally because children that are born at IDP camps are going to be the most stunted children in Nigeria.
“Stunted children are children that will not do well, stunting means that that the neurons will not develop to be able to absorb knowledge so we risk losing a generation of the toddlers that are stunted.
“Then the generation of teenagers, they are angry at the country, they feel abandoned, they feel lost. It’s like we are living two nations. How can we have a nation that belongs to you and I and that of people living in the IDPs. The state of people at the IDP camps are reprehensible, despicable and totally unacceptable. It is a crisis of monumental proportion that needs to be tackled head on, the government should not continue to sit on this matter any further.
“There are existing solutions to what to do with IDPs, it happens all over the world, in Africa alone we had them in Ivory Coast, DRC, Sudan and Kenya. Our Chibok girls are dislocated. Government must have a soul. We are demanding action about people in IDP camps. IDPs should not be a new neglect just like the Chibok girls,” she said.
Hundreds of IDPs in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital had earlier blocked highways in the state to protest against poor feeding in their camps.
Ms. Ezekwesili also said that the government should be more truthful about Chibok girls.
“We want our government to be truthful about Chibok girls. They publicly said that it was negotiating the release of 83 Chibok girls without telling us about that negotiation. They went forward to declare that they have decimated Boko Haram and Sambisa forest and that the war was won and yet the same Sambisa is where 21 girls were brought.”
In its official statement on Monday, the group claimed that the government had relaxed in its commitment towards people in the IDP camps.
“According to the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, the IDP population is estimated to be 2 million, however 90 per cent of these camps are in informal settlement and host communities most of which are not government recognised. As a result they are mainly catered to by NGOs and humanitarian agencies at local, national and international level. People in IDP camps are dying of hunger. There are reports of sexual molestation including by military and police personnel in the IDP camps. Government should take responsibility,” the group said.
The BBOG began its campaign for the return of Chibok girls two weeks after they were abducted on April 14, 2014.
Monday’s protest on the issue of IDPs in the north-east is part of a one-week rally by the group from January 8 to 14 to mark the 1000 days Chibok schoolgirls were abducted.
At least 195 of the girls have not been found and are believed to still be with the Boko Haram.