A slight scuffle erupted between locals and internally displaced persons on Sunday when a not-for-profit group hosted a party for the IDPs at Karmiriji IDP Camp, Abuja.
The unidentified locals had tried to pilfer all the provisions brought for the IDPs and this led to a scrambe.
The group, Ray of Hope Empowerment Foundation, held the celebration party in an effort to bring succour to people who were displaced by the decade-long Boko Haram war.
An estimated two million people are said to have fled their homes across the north-eastern part of the country, the region most affected by the deadly acts of the terrorists, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The fleeing victims have taken shelter at makeshift camps in different parts of the country, including the FCT.
The leader of the foundation, Christybelle Sylvester-John, said bringing the Christmas celebration to the displaced persons was inspired by the feeling of empathy and the need to spread love as are the virtues of Christmas.
“Christmas is a period we spend with friends and loved ones to share the love of Christ and favour. In 2015, we reflected on how some people wouldn’t get the chance of doing this with their loved ones as they lost them to Boko-Haram insurgency.
“So, we thought we should do something for them. Now, we do this every year to put smiles on their faces. Like we all know, words may be forgotten but memories last for a life time,” Ms Sylvester-John told PREMIUM TIMES.
The party featured face-painting and dance competition as the displaced persons, mostly Muslims, set aside their religious beliefs to be regaled with the party’s glamour.
“I was happy to be a part of the Christmas party,” said Umar Danladi, the winner of the dance competition.
Aside giving the displaced persons a sense of belonging as other Nigerians celebrate Christmas, the group thronged the camp with gift items, clothing and a message of hope for a better future.
Ms Sylvester-John said her foundation is committed to the eradication of poverty by providing tools for sustainable development to vulnerable people living in rural communities across Nigeria.
“Our aim is to unify humanity with peace and love as we hope to make poor vulnerable people to feel loved and catered for,” noted Ms Sylvester-John.
Meanwhile, the leader of the displaced persons, Abubakar Mustafa, expressed appreciation to the foundation officials for their kind gesture.
“I cannot express our gratitude enough on behalf of the IDPs here, for the shower of love,” Mr Mustafa said.
He complained about the unemployment and insecurity in the camp “as we live among the Karmiriji locals who often thwart distribution of relief materials with chaos”.
As if to confirm the fears of the IDPs, the event was almost marred by persons who disrupted the distribution of the items.
While the IDPs and officials of the foundation scampered to safety, the attackers swooped on items and packed many away.
But for the rapt attention of some security personnel brought by the organisers to douse the situation, the hoodlums would have carted away everything.
The only items salvaged were those hurriedly shoved into a Marco Polo bus they brought.
An undeterred Mrs Sylvester-John said she hoped her foundation’s efforts would help spur the government and other non-governmental groups to contribute their time and resources towards empowering the displaced persons for dignified living conditions.
“Giving them food relief materials is not sustainable. They can go about their normal lives if only government or non governmental organisation can empower them.
“We believe the level of hunger is increasing by the day and which can also be a contributing factor to their violent acts. If this continues a lot of organisation will be scared of visiting the IDP camps,” she said.
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