An IDP camp (Pix by Premium Times)
After myriads of unfortunate incidents that forced them to flee their homes, many refugees and internally displaced persons in Nigeria, are yet to know peace even in the camps where their frayed nerves ought to be soothed.
Despite the presence of security operatives and government officials at the various Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps, terrorists and rapists have relentlessly visited the displaced inmates with all manner of terror.
Countless number of the refugees and IDPs have been killed in series of attacks carried out by members of the Boko Haram terrorist group and even the military in the course of fighting the insurgents.
The plight of the female folks appears worse as they, apart from dying from attacks by terrorists, are also subjected to horrendous sexual assaults and abuses that further devastate them.
Chronicles of murder in IDP camps
On 17 January 2017, a Nigerian Air Force jet was reported to have mistakenly bombed an IDP camp near the Cameroonian border in Rann, Borno State. 115 people were reported dead, with six Red Cross aid workers, and more than 100 inmates injured after the unfortunate incident.
The casualty figure according to VOA rose to 236 people within a week. The Nigerian military said the bombing was an accident.
Giving a background to the incident, Wikipedia wrote: “Early reporting said that the Nigerian military had received information that Boko Haram forces were gathering in preparation for an attack on a military target. Major General[ Lucky Irabor, the commander of Nigerian forces fighting Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria, said that he had ordered an airstrike on the location where the militants were believed to be gathering. The airstrike took place sometime during the day—reports varied from about 09:00 local time] to early in the afternoon[ —and left at least dozens dead.
“The United Nations (UN) and Red Cross jointly deployed a helicopter mission carrying medical personnel and 400 kilograms (880 lb) of supplies which arrived late on the 17th and evacuated eight Red Cross workers. Additional UN helicopters deployed to aid in evacuations, while MSF said that its workers in Chad and Cameroon were preparing to receive the victims once they had been stabilized for transport from Rann. Some of the injured were airlifted to the Nigerian city of Maiduguri.
General Irabor, conceding for the first time in the fighting against Boko Haram that a government attack had resulted in civilian casualties, said that “[u]nfortunately, the strike was conducted, but it turned out that other civilians were somewhere around the area and they were affected”, while President Muhammadu Buhari said that the incident had been a “regrettable operational mistake”
Mausi Segun, a member of the Human Rights Watch in Nigeria, said that regardless of intent, the group considered the bombing a crime, saying that “[e]ven if there is no evidence of a willful attack on the camp, which would be a war crime, the camp was bombed indiscriminately, violating international humanitarian law.”
Hugues Robert of MSF said “This was a very densely populated place that was full of civilians who already lived there and internally displaced persons who had come there,” while The Economist criticized the bombing for occurring in the camp even though it was under army control at the time.
Less than four months after the questionable military action on the IDP camp in Rann, the Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram beheaded four internally displaced persons in Dalori-1 Camp of Maiduguri, Borno State on May 21.
According to Premium Times online the four victims, who were buried, by their fellow displaced persons, were reportedly beheaded while hunting outside the camp. It took a search team to find the four beheaded bodies some few kilometres from the Dalori camp, along the Maiduguri-Bama Road.
Sources familiar with the incident said the attacked IDPs, who were also volunteer members of the local vigilante, Civilian-JTF, often go to the bush to hunt for games which they either cooked to beef up their protein needs or sell to earn some cash.
The online portal said it was supposed to be another normal hunting day for the 12 men, who unfortunately ran into a gang of Boko Haram insurgents who attacked and beheaded four of them.
Sources at the camp listed the slain persons to include Wali Fanne, Ibrahim, Chacha, and Baba Karemi. “Six of the IDP hunters managed to run back late afternoon of Saturday to inform us at the camp that they were attacked by Boko Haram fighters,” said an IDP from Bama who identified himself as Alai Goni.
“When we waited for the six others to return and they did not, we decided to go in search for them. About six kilomtres away from the camp, we came to a riverbank and we saw a man watering his horse. The man simply pointed to us where the corpses of the four slain men were dumped.
We became suspicious of him and we had to arrest him and bring him to the security personnel at the gate of Dalori-1 camp. “Unfortunately, we could not immediately find the decapitated heads of three of them; we only found three bodies without their heads, while the fourth one whose head was not separated from his body, had some kind of sharp sword forcefully driven into his forehead.”
On July 25, the country’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) confirmed the death of four people after suicide bombers attacked two internally displaced camps in the outskirts of Maiduguri, Borno State.
15 others were injured when two bombers, a male and a female attacked the IDP camp at Dalori, known as Dalori 1 Camp.
Another suicide bomber targeted another camp, Dalori 2, but was intercepted. Only the bomber died in the second attack.
Dalori is a suburban town near Maiduguri, Borno, Nigeria. Since March 2015, it hosts one of the largest internally displaced persons camp created during the Boko Haram insurgency, with more than 15,000 people, most of them coming from the South-East of Borno State.
Dalori camp is located on the road from Maiduguri to Konduga, Bama and the border between Nigeria and Cameroon, 15 kilometers South-East of Maiduguri.
The camp has been targeted by many attacks from the Boko Haram insurgency, including suicide attacks. The worst of these attacks occurred on 30 January 2016, when at least 86 people were killed and at least 62 more injured.
The Boko Haram insurgents have been using suicide attackers, mostly girls, to hit their targets in recent times.
Killings resume in 2018
After some period of peace, mindless killings of refugees and internally displaced in the North East of Nigeria resumed in January 2018.
On the 30th of January, about five persons were reported dead and 39 others injured when two suicide bombers attacked an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Maiduguri, Borno state.
Officials of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) who confirmed the incident to journalists in Maiduguri said the attack occurred at about 8p.m.
The chairman of SEMA, Satomi Ahmed, said the two suicide bombers targeted Dalori IDP camp located at the outskirts of capital city near the University of Maiduguri.
“The attack was carried out by two teenage girls, one of them gained access to the camp and detonated herself killing herself and five others, while 39 others were injured in the blast,” said Mr Ahmed.
“The second one could not make it into the camp before his explosive went off, killing only himself.”
In late 2018, the terrorist group killed eight persons, including children, in an attack on a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Maiduguri, Borno State capital.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) gave the casualty figure in a statement confirming the attack, although eye-witnesses said at least a dozen people died.
The attack on Dalori IDP camp started at about 7p.m. and lasted two hours during which the attackers reportedly overpowered soldiers guarding the camp.
Eye-witnesses who spoke to journalists in Maiduguri said they counted up to 12 corpses after the attack.
Solomon Adamu, an official of the Civilian-JTF deployed in the camp, said “a total of 12 persons were killed here and outside the camp.”
“At Gwazari-Kofa, one person was killed, at Dalori IDP Camp II, two persons were killed; and at Bulabulin a village near the camp, nine persons got killed,” he said.
He said the attackers came in seven pickup vans.
“They were about 100 in number and all of them were fully armed. We had to run for our lives.”
NEMA, however, in a statement confirming the attack, said only eight persons died.
Zonal coordinator of NEMA for North east, Bashir Garga, said in a statement he signed that ”six (6) people from Kofa village were killed as a result of suspected Boko Haram terrorists that attacked four villages in outskirts of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
Camp officials told PREMIUM TIMES that some other IDPs are yet to be accounted for at the time of filing this report.
IDPs suffer more attacks in 2019
Boko Haram’s penchant for killing displaced people continued in 2019 . On July 25, an old man and a child were reported dead, after motorcycle-riding Boko Haram gunmen attacked a camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) in Maiduguri, Borno State capital.
The Dalori IDP camp, located near University of Maiduguri, came under attack by suspected Boko Haram fighters who broke in through the back perimeter fence at about 8 p.m.
Abba Aji, a top commander of the youth vigilante group known as Civilian-JTF, said the gunmen first attacked the soldiers’ station near the camp before they moved in, shooting sporadically.
“It happened a few minutes after 8 p.m. when they (Boko Haram) broke into the camp and killed two persons, an old woman a very little child,” he said.
He said despite the fact that the camp was well guarded by soldiers, the insurgents, who also broke into shops and stole food items, easily made their way in and left.
“It is really a very sad development that this is still happening,” he said.
Bello Danbatta, a security attache to the State Emergency Management Agency(SEMA) also confirmed the attack.
He said “it was an unfortunate incident but we thank God that not much damage has been done.”
He also confirmed that “a little child and an old man were killed.”
The attack came a few hours to July 26, the date on which the ongoing Boko Haram insurgency started ten years ago.
Dalori camp is one of the largest of such facilities which have come under attacks in the past few years.
Thousands of lives have been lost and over seven million displaced since 2009 when Boko Haram picked up arms against the Nigerian government.
Just two days ago, AFP, reported how an early morning fire incident on Thursday killed 14 people and destroyed more than 250 shelters at an Internally Displaced Persons, IDP, camp in Borno State, North East, Nigeria.
The incident reportedly compounded the woes of the displaced people as it rendered , 1250 of them homeless.
The blaze broke out mid-morning in a camp holding some 70,000 people in the town of Gamboru, close to the border with Cameroon, the head of a government-backed militia told AFP.
“We recovered 14 burnt bodies from the gutted shelters and another 15 who sustained varying degrees of burns from the fire,” militia leader Umar Kachalla said.
More than 200 shelters were destroyed, rendering 1,250 people homeless, said a rescue official, who asked not to be named.
“The fire killed 14 people, six from the same family, and left 15 with injuries, seven of them critically,” said the official.
It was not clear what caused the fire but residents blamed it on arson after a suspect was arrested with a lighter in his pocket, another militia member Shehu Mada said.
Officials allegedly abusing displaced women, girls
It is a double trouble for females in the IDP camps as reports say they are often sexually abused and exploited.
Amnesty International on May 24, 2018 under the heading ‘Nigeria: Starving women raped by soldiers and militia who claim to be rescuing them’ reported that: “Thousands of women and girls who survived the brutal rule of the Boko Haram armed group have since been further abused by the Nigerian security forces who claim to be rescuing them.
“It is absolutely shocking that people who had already suffered so much under Boko Haram have been condemned to further horrendous abuse by the Nigerian military,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.
“Instead of receiving protection from the authorities, women and girls have been forced to succumb to rape in order to avoid starvation or hunger.”
Human Rights Watch earlier in December 31, 2016, published a detailed and disturbing account of how government officials and other authorities in Nigeria raped and sexually exploited women and girls displaced by the conflict with Boko Haram.
The report said: In late July, 2016, Human Rights Watch documented sexual abuse, including rape and exploitation, of 43 women and girls living in seven internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital. The victims had been displaced from several Borno towns and villages, including Abadam, Bama, Baga, Damasak, Dikwa, Gamboru Ngala, Gwoza, Kukawa, and Walassa. In some cases, the victims had arrived in the under-served Maiduguri camps, where their movement is severely restricted after spending months in military screening camps.
“It is bad enough that these women and girls are not getting much-needed support for the horrific trauma they suffered at the hands of Boko Haram,” said Mausi Segun, senior Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch. “It is disgraceful and outrageous that people who should protect these women and girls are attacking and abusing them.”
Four of the victims told Human Rights Watch that they were drugged and raped, while 37 were coerced into sex through false marriage promises and material and financial assistance. Many of those coerced into sex said they were abandoned if they became pregnant. They and their children have suffered discrimination, abuse, and stigmatization from other camp residents. Eight of the victims said they were previously abducted by Boko Haram fighters and forced into marriage before they escaped to Maiduguri.
A situational assessment of IDPs in the northeast in July 2016 by NOI Polls, a Nigerian research organization, reported that 66 percent of 400 displaced people in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states said that camp officials sexually abuse the displaced women and girls.
Women and girls abused by members of the security forces and vigilante groups – civilian self-defense groups working with government forces in their fight against Boko Haram – told Human Rights Watch they feel powerless and fear retaliation if they report the abuse. A 17-year-old girl said that just over a year after she fled the frequent Boko Haram attacks in Dikwa, a town 56 miles west of Maiduguri, a policeman approached her for “friendship” in the camp, and then he raped her.
“One day he demanded to have sex with me,” she said. “I refused but he forced me. It happened just that one time, but soon I realized I was pregnant. When I informed him about my condition, he threatened to shoot and kill me if I told anyone else. So I was too afraid to report him.”
The Boko Haram conflict has led to more than 10,000 civilian deaths since 2009; the abductions of at least 2,000 people, mostly women and children and large groups of students, including from Chibok and Damasak; the forced recruitment of hundreds of men; and the displacement of about 2.5 million people in northeast Nigeria.
Victims’ Accounts by Human Rights Watch
Movement Restrictions, Food Shortages Fuel Sexual Abuse
Most of the victims interviewed lived in camps for displaced people. While victims living at the Arabic Teachers’ Village camp said they were allowed to leave the camp for about eight hours daily, victims from other camps said that their movement was severely restricted. The women and girls became victims of rape and sexual exploitation when they accepted offers of friendship or marriage from men in positions of authority.
A 16-year-old girl who fled a brutal Boko Haram attack on Baga, near the shores of Lake Chad, northern Borno in January 2015, said she was drugged and raped in May 2015 by a vigilante group member in charge of distributing aid in the camp:
He knew my parents were dead, because he is also from Baga. He would bring me food items like rice and spaghetti so I believed he really wanted to marry me. But he was also asking me for sex. I always told him I was too small [young]. The day he raped me, he offered me a drink in a cup. As soon as I drank it, I slept off. It was in his camp room.
I knew something was wrong when I woke up. I was in pain, and blood was coming out of my private part. I felt weak and could not walk well. I did not tell anyone because I was afraid. When my menstrual period did not come, I knew I was pregnant and just wanted to die to join my dead mother. I was too ashamed to even go to the clinic for pregnancy care. I am so young! The man ran away from the camp when he heard I delivered a baby six months ago. I just feel sorry for the baby because I have no food or love to give him. I think he might die.
An 18-year-old girl from Kukawa, a Borno town 112 miles from Maiduguri, the state capital, said that a member of Civilian Joint Task Force – a self-defense vigilante group working with government forces in their fight against Boko Haram – initially gave her privileges, including passes that allowed her to leave the camp, but then raped her:
The man started with preaching, telling me to be a good Muslim girl and not to join bad groups in the camp. He then sent his mother to propose to me, which convinced me that he was serious. He allowed me to go outside the camp when necessary. When he asked me to visit his newly allocated room in the camp, I didn’t see any reason not to go because I felt safe with him. He gave me a bottle of Zobo [locally brewed non-alcoholic drink] and I immediately felt dizzy and slept off. I don’t know what happened thereafter but when I woke up he was gone and I was in pain and felt wet between my legs. For three days I could not walk properly.
Some weeks later I fell very ill, and was told at the hospital that I was pregnant. Then everyone turned away from me: [He] refused to help me, and my step-mother who I lived with in camp pushed me out, saying I was a disgrace. I reported [him] to the police in camp several times but they have not done anything to him because they work together. Whenever I see him, I wish something terrible will happen to him. It is because of him that I have lost everything. I don’t even think the baby will last because she is always crying and I can’t cope. I pray that God will forgive me for neglecting the baby but I am helpless.
A 30-year-old woman from Walassa, near Bama, about 43 miles west of Maiduguri, said that she fled into a nearby wooded area after Boko Haram fighters killed her husband and abducted her daughters, ages 12 and 9. She stayed there for three months, hoping to find a way to rescue her daughters, until Nigerian government soldiers arrived in the area and the fighters escaped with their captives:
A few weeks after soldiers transported us to the camp, near Maiduguri, one of the soldiers guarding us approached me for marriage. He used to bring food and clothes for me and my remaining four children, so I allowed him to have sex with me. He is a Hausa man from Gwoza. That is all I know about him. Two months later he just stopped coming. Then I realized I was pregnant. I feel so angry with him for deceiving me. When he was pretending to woo me he used to provide for me, but as soon as I agreed and we began having sex, his gifts began to reduce until he abandoned me. Now my situation is worse as the pregnancy makes me sick, and I have no one to help me care for my children.
A woman from Bama living at the same camp said:
The soldier showed his interest by bringing me food and clothes. He used to wear the green army uniform and carried a gun. I accepted him because I needed help to take care of me and my four children. Feeding in the camp is only once a day so you have to accept any help that comes. We started having sex in my camp tent – my sister who was sharing it with me left – or at night in the open field where soldiers stay in the camp. Five months later when I realized I was pregnant and told him, he stopped coming. I have not seen him since then. I feel so ashamed because my neighbors talk and stare at me. I cry whenever I think about him. I delivered the baby two months ago but he is also suffering – I eat once a day so [am] not producing enough milk to breast feed him well. Things are so bad in the camp, there is not enough water or food.
An 18-year old girl from Baga said when she met a member of the Civilian Joint Task Force in the camp, she felt she could trust him because he is also from Baga:
He took me from the camp to a house on Baga Road so we could meet freely. I stayed with him in that house for about one month. Then I fell ill, and went to a clinic. The people at the clinic asked for the person I was living with, and invited him. That was when they told him I was pregnant, and he accepted the pregnancy. But immediately [when] we came out of the clinic he took me to a man to abort the pregnancy. I refused and he said if I would not abort we should separate. Then I moved to the camp. I gave birth almost a year ago but the man has refused to take responsibility. Some months ago he followed the military to catch Boko Haram far from Maiduguri. Even when he visits his two wives in the camp he never asks for me and my baby. I go outside the camp to beg so that we can survive.
A 25-year-old woman at from Dikwa said that when she fled Boko Haram’s attack on the town, she lived with her brother in a rented apartment in Maiduguri. When he was no longer able to feed her and her three children, he took her to the camp where he handed her over to camp elders. One of these elders, a local government employee – who are often financially better off than most displaced people because they receive salaries – proposed marriage and regularly brought her food and money. But the marriage did not materialize, and he began to shun her when she became pregnant. He continued to ignore her when she delivered twins and asked him for money to pay for her midwife. The woman said:
If I have a gun, I will shoot him. It is because of him that people call me and my babies names. I am so ashamed that I cannot participate in camp activities and keep to myself because of the jeers.
A 17-year-old girl said that a young man she knew took her home to his grandmother when she arrived Maiduguri from Dikwa in mid-2014:
He told me he wanted to marry me, and his grandmother referred to me as her grandson’s wife. I lived with them, cooking and cleaning the house, until a month later when he disappeared for weeks. The grandmother asked me to leave, promising to come to the wedding… It was a lie. I did not know it but I was already pregnant. Maybe she already saw the pregnancy signs and I was too young to understand. I heard the grandson fled the town because he heard I have given birth. Now I have been left alone to fend for the baby. I don’t know if any other member of my family survived the Boko Haram attack on Dikwa.
A 32-year-old woman from the Damasak said:
Life is terrible here in this camp. For the past three days we have not eaten because there is no firewood to cook the food. To make it worse, they will not even allow us to go out to fend for ourselves. Most times you have to beg the camp officials to intervene with the guards before they will give you the pass to go out. Why will you refuse if any of those people ask you for marriage? You have to survive.
Another camp resident, a 47-year-old mother of eight from Abadam, a northern Borno town, said:
We used to get food at least twice a day when I first arrived at the camp in 2014. But now, sometimes we get nothing at all. We can’t even buy food ourselves because they will not let us go out. My relatives in the town have to plead with camp officials for hours before the officials will agree to let them give us some money or foodstuff from the little they have.
A 20-year-old widowed mother of one at a camp for displaced people said:
I have been refusing marriage proposals from the men in camp because I see how they are deceiving others. I am just not sure how long I can remain in this situation. The last time I ate was four days ago when the one cup of maize I was given finished. I am suffering because I have no husband or anyone else to assist me.
A 16-year-old single mother of one in the same camp said:
Life is difficult in the camp, hardly enough to eat. There is food but whoever gets it, gets it. We are not allowed to go out to find work or get extra food. Sometimes I go to the kitchen to scrape pots to get something to eat. They distribute tickets, some get tickets and some don’t get. If you don’t get a ticket you get no food. The IDP elders distribute the tickets, so they distribute amongst themselves, they make sure their families get first. Usually distribution of tickets take place at odd times such as at midnight.
If you are not married, you hardly get anything that comes in. Women who have husbands insult us: “If you want to eat in [this camp], you should get married in [the camp] so husbands can get food for you.”
Sources of information:
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Premium Times, Vanguard Newspaper and Wikipedia
Edo goes after assets, properties of traffickers
The Edo State Government plans to go after the assets and properties of persons behind the wanton trafficking of indigenes of the state.
Governor Godwin Obaseki told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja yesterday that proceeds from such properties would be ploughed into the rehabilitation and reintegration of returnees.
Convicting the perpetrators and liquidating their assets, according to the governor, will serve as a deterrent to others who are still scouting for vulnerable Nigerians to traffic.
The governor, who was among guests at an event held at the British High Commission in Abuja on Thursday, however, said that the state had been hindered by delays in prosecution.
He said whereas government had recruited competent prosecutors, judicial processes, long adjournments and handling of victims’ testimonies were delaying government’s move to get convictions.
He said: “We have been able to intensify investigation and prosecution. But unfortunately, we have not been able to get any conviction.
“Not because the prosecutors are not doing their utmost best, but because of the very nature of our legal system.
“We are working very hard with the high courts and NAPTIP to ensure that we get convictions.
“This can serve as a deterrent and punishment to the perpetrators, ensuring that they lose property and they lose assets with which we will now use in supporting the rehabilitation of victims.
“We will work with the judiciary to try and reduce the long adjournments and also the way they treat evidences from victims.
“Many of these victims are afraid of revealing information on their traffickers because of threats, but we are taking measures to provide safe houses for them and to provide cover for them until we are able to get prosecutions.”
The governor said that in the last four years under his watch, the number of persons trafficked from the state had reduced with rehabilitation and reintegration of over 6,500 returnees.
He said that the focus for the government, working with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), is to re-humanise the victims and restore their dignity.
He added that the government also, in the process of rehabilitation, extracts information from the victims in a bid to understand the scope and nature of the network.
“We have rehabilitated over 6,500 victims of trafficking and irregular migration working with partners like the IOM.
“We have also used the opportunity to extract a lot of data to understand the nature and scope of all these trafficking network and crisis.
“With that information, we now understand what drives people and what have driven people to be trafficked, the areas they come from, their social situation and economic situations.
“That has helped us to put strategies in place to combat trafficking in Edo state.
“You would see from records available that the incidence of trafficking and irregular migration in Edo state over the last three years has dropped dramatically,” he said.
JIFORM to African leaders: give youths social security to combat human trafficking
As the world marks the 2021 Day Against Trafficking In Persons on July 30, the Journalists International Forum For Migration (JIFORM) has urged government in Africa to pay more attention to the social security schemes to stem the tide of human trafficking on the continent.
The global media body with over 300 journalists covering migration across the continents is hosting its 3rd global migration summit in partnership with the Altec Global Inc, Toronto Canada and others at the Niagara Falls in the country between November 29 to December 6, this year.
The President of JIFORM, Ajibola Abayomi in a statement noted that “the major pull factor of human trafficking in Africa is poverty. The youths being trafficked need jobs, shelter, security and empowerment. Before we can ensure that the victims’ voices lead the way as the theme of the 2021 anti-human trafficking day implies, every government on the continent must not pretend on the relevance of improved socio- economic status for their citizens. Time to do needful is now by being honest and set aside undue semantics and theories.
“We salute the doggedness of the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP) in Nigeria. The law establishing the agency should be reviewed to mandate the leadership of the agency to be totally professional and hierarchically structured as uniformed organization.
“NAPTIP needs more funding to recruit more hands and have its presence in the 774 local governments in Nigeria. The agency should be more strategically involved in the migration process of mostly young Nigerian ladies to be sure of their mission at the airports through collaboration with the Nigeria Immigration Service.
“Youth empowerment is very key to any preventive measure. Poverty, economic hardship and ignorance are the major weapons being used by the traffickers to sway victims in Africa especially Nigeria.
“Therefore, for the theme of this year’s anti-human trafficking day to be meaningful in Nigeria and Africa, JIFORM agrees totally that listening to and learning from survivors of human trafficking are very important. Survivors are key actors in the fight against human trafficking.
“But how well have we re-integrate many of them into the society? The victims play a crucial role in establishing effective measures to prevent this crime, identifying and rescuing victims and supporting them on their road to rehabilitation.
“We cannot agree less with the United Nations that many victims of human trafficking have experienced ignorance or misunderstanding in their attempts to get help. They have had traumatic post-rescue experiences during identification interviews and legal proceedings. Some have faced revictimization and punishment for crimes they were forced to commit by their traffickers. Others have been subjected to stigmatization or received inadequate support. So, we must rise to implement the preventive measures and defend the victims.
“Learning from victims’ experiences and turning their suggestions into concrete actions will lead to a more victim-centered and effective approach in combating human trafficking. The media too must play its roles to carry out more campaigns to complement what is expected from the government” Ajibola added.
IOM rushes to help refugees as deadly monsoon rains wreak havoc in Bangladesh
Cox’s Bazar – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said today many of the more than 13,000 Rohingya refugees forced out of their camps by flooding in Cox’s Bazar which has killed at least six people were returning to their shelters to salvage belongings after a break in heavy rains, but the risk of more casualties remained high.
IOM said a total of more than 21,000 refugees had been affected and almost 4,000 shelters were destroyed. Food distribution centres, health facilities and water points have been damaged during three days of non-stop rain.
The six confirmed dead were killed in landslides or drowned in two IOM-managed camps and officials fear more flooding and landslides will prevent help reaching others among the total of 884,000 Rohingya refugees in the country.
Access to the camps is hazardous as constant landslides block the main roads leading to the camps, and major routes used by refugees and humanitarian actors are under water.
Up to 2,000 people have been evacuated from landslide-prone areas in Teknaf upazila (sub-district).
“Heavy rainfall is expected during the next few days, and as such, challenges are likely to increase,” said Manuel Marques Pereira, IOM Deputy Chief of Mission in Bangladesh.
“Over the past few months, IOM has been assessing the risk of landslides, strengthening drainage networks, installing slope protection measures and upgrading key pathways. However, despite multiple disaster risk reduction measures being implemented, the camp congestion, excessive rain and poor soil quality, make it extremely difficult to cope with the elements,” Pereira said.
One hundred Rohingya Disaster Management Unit (DMU) volunteers trained in each camp have been working around the clock and focusing on helping the most vulnerable, including the elderly and pregnant women. IOM teams are assessing the damage and working closely with the different sectors to refer those affected for relevant assistance. Mobile medical teams have been deployed and the protection emergency response unit has been activated.
Staff on the ground are clearing drainage pipes, repairing damage and distributing emergency shelter kits, core relief items, and aquatabs to prevent waterborne diseases.
IOM has sent in Cyclone Preparedness Programme volunteers to urgently assist host community members.
Families have taken refuge in six different multi-purpose cyclone shelters where they are currently being assisted with relief items, protection and medical support. Since 2019, IOM has been supporting the rehabilitation of MPCS so community members can take shelter in case of disasters.
The current flood emergency further exacerbates the massive humanitarian needs of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. After almost four years since the latest influx of Rohingya refugees who arrived in Bangladesh from neighbouring Myanmar, IOM is relying on its partners to continue to support the response.
Additional support is needed to enable teams to continue to assist those affected, as well as the rest of the refugees currently residing in the camps. As always, IOM advocates for the continuation of a comprehensive humanitarian assistance for refugees across all camps.
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