This Day (Lagos)

23 July 2014

Nigeria: Boko Haram - Gombe Worried By Influx of Displaced Persons

The daily influx of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) into Gombe State has become a source of worry to the authorities of the state Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) due to their overwhelming numbers.

The Executive Secretary of SEMA, Dr. Danlami Arabs Rukujei, who spoke with journalists yesterday, said the state was getting overwhelmed with the IDPs especially from Damboa in Borno State where activities of insurgents had heightened in the last few days. Rukujei stated that within the last two days alone, over a thousand IDP's comprising women, children and men have found their way into the state and the number is still increasing every minute.

According to him, "Since I started this work, this has been the largest influx of IDPs and as I speak to you, we have not finished the registration process, but as at yesterday (Monday) we have received over a thousand and a lot are still coming. According to media reports this morning, there are more in Biu and the reason why they have not made it to Gombe is because they don't have the transport fare. This is quite shocking."

He said it was difficult to give a figure of the IDPs coming into the state but that information reaching him from different quarters indicated that there are over three thousand motorcycle operators (Okada), many found at tipper garages, some coming in to rent houses and many in squatter quarters, that is, settlements that are not planned and are very many in the state capital.

He, however, said the agency was able to register over 18,000 from January to date and that the number keeps increasing. He added that the agency was doing all it can to help the IDP's. Rukujei also said most of the men among the IDP's are calling on the federal government to send security personnel to their areas so that they could go back and farm because they don't want to be liabilities to other people or engage in street begging after the harvesting season.

One of the IDPs, Mohammed Abdulrahman, who spoke with THISDAY said when the Boko Haram insurgents stormed Damboa last Friday, killing and destroying their properties, there were no security personnel, as such, they had to run to the bushes and sleep. He said he ran and found his way to Gombe, leaving his family behind but that he had information that his wife and children had equally found their way to Gombe on Monday.

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