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Relief package scandal rocks IDP camps

Questions are trailing the disbursement of the World Bank’s Target Grant Transfer funds to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Bauchi, Gombe and Adamawa states. While beneficiaries were to receive N200,000 over a period of time, the IDPs alleged that they have only received between N30,000 and N50, 000 since 2017 and all their  efforts to get the balance have failed, INNOCENT DURU reports.

  • Officials halt disbursement of N.2m World Bank money promised each household after paying N30,000
  • Hunger, Ill-health spike death toll in camps
  • Survivors recall how insurgents murdered loved ones

Zara Umoru, a mother of eight had her husband brutally murdered in 2014 by Boko Haram members in Borno State. Zara, together with her eight children subsequently fled her home town in Gwoza Local Government Area and that began a journey of the widow into a world of misery and uncertainty.

“When we ran away from Gwoza, my children and I started moving from place to place begging people to help them wash their clothes in order to get money to survive. Sometimes, if I washed clothes with my children, we could get between N500 and N600 daily. At times, some neighbours would give my children the remnant of what they have eaten in their houses,” she said.

After some time of wandering about, Zara and her children moved to Bauchi State to search for better living conditions and also stave off the challenges posed by insurgents.

Her frustration started to ease when the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the state were asked to register for Target Grant Transfer (TGT), a World Bank funds that would see them getting a total of N200,000 over a period of time.

After receiving the initial N30,000 and an ATM card that she would use for subsequent withdrawals, Zara  has not heard from the officials nor received any other payment. This, she said, has dashed her hope of starting a business that would put an end to her woes.

Zara said: “I benefitted from the World Bank money. I was given an ATM card and also got N30,000. When they came at the beginning in 2017, they said they were going to give us N200,000 broken down to N20,000, N30,000, N50,000 and N100,000.  But we have not set our eyes on them since they gave us the initial N30,000. I don t know their office and don’t even know how to communicate with them.”

Zara, who is the IDPs woman-leader in Bauchi State, is deeply worried about her future and that of her eight children. “The man who gave us a room apartment we are occupying is now late. It is this one room that my eight children and I are living in.

“We still engage in helping people to wash clothes to have money to feed. I have become a washer woman here in Bauchi.

“Like I said earlier, at times, some neighbours who see our plight do give my children the remnant of what they have eaten in their houses.

“Boko Haram put me in all this. They killed my husband and left me with eight children. My husband was running away to where he could seek refuge on a mountain when Boko Haram insurgents caught and murdered him.”

IDPs’ chairman in the state, (Bauchi) Buba Musa Shehu, who also hails from  Gwoza Local Government Area in Borno State, confirmed Zara’s claim that the balance of the World Bank funds had not been paid to them.

He said: “I benefitted from the TGT programme of the World Bank. They promised to give us N200,000 but they have only given us N30,000   since 2017. They have not given us the balance since then. “We have written petitions and have been struggling to make them pay the balance to no avail.”

The story is not different in Gombe and Adamawa states where the IDPs feel they are being ripped off. A frontline member of the group in Akko Local Government Area, Gombe State, Bukar Alirambe, was furious as he shared the frustration the group has experienced asking for their balance.

“We registered for the World Bank fund meant to give each registered household a total sum of N200,000. In 2018, they gave us an ATM card promising that they would give N200,000 to each registered household for capital project and emergency relief.

“About 3,534 households benefitted from the initial N30,000 they paid for our emergency relief. Some of us also got N20,000 for relocating from Borno. Those who did not relocate from any state were not given the N20,000.

“In all, we are entitled to N150,000 balance which, according to them, is for capital project. They have not given it to us till date.

“They said there is a second phase of the programme but the IDPs on the second batch have not benefitted at all from the funds.

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Rwandan refugees

“We have gone to the extent of writing and submitting petition to Senator Ali Ndume, the senator representing Southern Borno but nothing has come out of it. The petition was submitted in 2019.

“We are calling on the government to come to our aid by helping us to get this money so that we can start some petty businesses.

“We are begging the Federal Ministry of Finance and everybody that is involved in this programme to come to our aid so that we can be self-reliant and able to send our children to school.”

The IDPs chairman in Adamawa State, Usman Yahaya, corroborated the allegation, adding that what was promised them in Adamawa was N400,000.

He said: “The former coordinator told us they were going to give us N400,000 but not at a go. They said they were going to give us N30,000 for the first payment, then N20,000, N50,000, N100,000 and N200,000 respectively.

“They gave us N30,000 and later changed the coordinator. The new coordinator said there is nothing like that, saying the N30,000 we had received was the only money meant for us.

“Yet they gave us ATM cards that will expire in 2022.”

IDPs decry neglect by federal agencies

Aside their frustrations accessing the balance of the alleged World Bank funds, the IDPs are aggrieved by the attitude of Federal Government owned humanitarian agencies to their plight.

“Government agencies don’t care about us. There are more than 30,000 IDPs within the four local governments here in Yola.

“They announce in the media that they are taking care of us, but in reality, that is not true,” Adamawa State IDPs chairman, Yahaya said.

He alleged that the government agencies take care of only the IDPs that live in the camps, leaving out those that reside elsewhere. Their complaints and agitations, he said, have yielded no fruits.

He said: “We are not in the camp because it cannot accommodate all of us. Those that live in the camps are not up to one quarter of those of us that live the hosts in the communities.

“We have three official camps in Adamawa State. Last month, our secretary, woman leader and I went to NEMA to tell them about our plight.

“They said it was a directive given to them but that they only serve only those in camps and not those that live outside.

“They said we should go to camp. But if we go, they will not be able to accommodate us.”

Yahaya alleged that despite the huge budgetary allocations to the humanitarian agencies, they have not been getting any support. “There is nothing free at all for us. We pay for rent and our children’s education.

“It was one NGO (NRC) that supported us with N25,000 each for accommodation two years ago.

“There are many of our people that are homeless. Many are living in dilapidated houses. Some are in uncompleted houses.

“They stay in any kind of house, provided there is a roof on it, and they pay rent for such buildings.

“The government is not coming to our aid at all.”

Hunger, lack of access to healthcare spike death toll among IDPs

Following the challenges posed by acute hunger and lack of access to healthcare, checks showed that death rate among the IDPs has been on the increase.

In Gombe, more than 40 people are said to have died recently.

“Many of our people, including children, are dying of hunger and attendant health challenges.

“Some of the children don’t have food to eat for two to three days.  Between 2019 and now, about 40 people, including children, have died,” Bukar Alirambe said.

“We don’t have a primary health centre close to us.

“Between 2018 and 2019, Victim Support Group gave money to the specialist and teaching hospitals here in Gombe to support our treatment.

“The funds have been exhausted. Unfortunately, they didn’t provide fresh funds to continue this laudable cause.

“We have resorted to self-help. Another opportunity we have now is from the Catholic Relief Funds. They give anti-malaria drugs to our people.

“In the last six to seven months, the pregnant women among us have not been getting medical support.

“They have only been getting anti-malaria medications from CRF.”

The IDPs chairman in Bauchi State, Buba Musa Shehu, also bemoaned the rising death toll among his people.

He said: “Many of our people are dying. This year alone, we have lost about 50 people.

“Just last week, we had a high casualty figure. There is no access to good medical care.

“There is no support from any organization apart from the North East Development Commission who sometimes help us with foodstuffs.

IDPs in Katsina

Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouq

“The IDPs in Bauchi State are about 54,000. When we arrived here, many of our people were begging on the streets to get money to eat.

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“We don’t have a hospital. Whenever any of us is sick, we would have to contribute money among ourselves to treat the person.

“When one of our women wanted to give birth recently, we had to contribute money to take her to Maiduguri for treatment.”

In Adamawa State, the IDPs chairman said no fewer than 50 members had died recently.

‘Everyday was war in Borno’

Six years or more after they narrowly escaped the swords of the dreaded Boko Haram sect, the IDPs are yet to overcome the terror they experienced back at home in Borno State.

Reliving his close shave with death at the hands of the insurgents, the IDPs chairman in Bauchi,  Buba Musa Shehu, said: “I fled  Borno in 2014 because of Boko Haram.

“They came to our local government area around 5pm on August 5, 2014, killing people, including my family members. I lost my sisters, brothers, uncles and so on.

“I left my family in Gwoza in the night, ran away through Cameroon and came back through Yola to Bauchi.

“I trekked barefoot for eight days without food. I only survived on the water I found on the way.”

Asked how life is in Bauchi, Shehu said: “We are suffering a great deal here. First of all, we are living in our hosts’ communities and not in a camp. We are paying rent.

“I have four wives and 34 children. Not all my children are going to school. About 18 of them are not going to school because of financial challenges.

“I do odd jobs to raise money to pay for rent and feed my family. I assist at times at the block-making place. At times I go to bush to fetch firewood to sell. We don’t have any empowerment.

“What we need now is school for our children to get education. We also need empowerment so that we can go and farm.

“We don’t have farm implements, so we are always idling away. At times, we contribute money among ourselves to pay rent for a member.

“About 80 per cent of our children are out of school.

“Home is better than anywhere else. Wherever you go outside your home, you will feel isolated.

But the insurgents are still there in Borno. The area is not safe.

“In my house right now, there are five orphans who have no relations whatsoever to call their own or run to.”

His Adamawa counterpart, Yahaya, who hails from Gwoza, said:  I fled Borno in 2014.  I have a farm at Madagali in Adamawa State.

“I was returning to Borno one day when they called to inform me that Gwoza was under fire and that people were already fleeing. “I had always believed that the Nigerian army team at Gwoza then was very strong and that they would not capture the area easily.

“It was the third day that my family surfaced.  We stayed at Madagali hoping that the area would be safe. But to our surprise, the insurgents struck within a week of our stay there.

“We ran from there to Mubi while those who were well to do moved to Yola.

“After some time, the insurgents entered Michika, forcing those that were there to run down to our place in Mubi.

“We stayed Mubi for about a year before the insurgents attacked the area and forced us to run to Yola.”

The terrorist group, Yahaya said, killed so many of his neighbours.

“The number is uncountable,” he said.

One of the displaced persons in Gombe, Mohammed Abdulahi, also spoke about how he escaped from Borno in October 2014.

He said: “I ran here in Gombe before my family came to join me. I just had to run when Boko Haram members came to our place. They were not attacking women as such.

“As a male, you had to climb the hill to escape. From Gwoza, I trekked to a village near Adamawa. There, some organisations assisted by giving us money to transport ourselves.

“Many of my relations were killed by Bojko Haram. Many things are happening there now. A lot of people are being killed.

“Boko Haram is occupying all our villages in Borno up till now. We weren’t sleeping back then in Borno State.

“There was also no rest during the day. You will always hear sounds of bombs in nearby villages. Gunshots were always reverberating every day, and each time the children heard the sound, they would run inside.

Mohammed lamented that the host communities deliberately jerked up rent when because of the high number of IDPs.

“My uncle that I was staying with initially rented an apartment for me. He pays N40,000 annually. “The hosts increased the rent because many of our people were coming here. Gombe is the centre of the North East.

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“Many IDPs from Adamawa, Borno and Yobe are coming here and that is why they increased the rent.

“We have very little to eat. We eat once or at most twice a day.

“We used to go to the hospital. Formerly, we were receiving free treatment when there was victims support fund. Now, there is no such opportunity.

I have five children. Three are in school but two are out of school because of financial challenges.

“I feel very sad about it. If I have the means, I will train them up to university level. But as things stand, that is not possible.”

Also sharing her experience, a widow, Hadiza Alli, from Gwoza Local Government, said: “I have left Borno since August, 2014. My husband fell ill and died, leaving me with three children and an aged woman to cater for. “When the Boko Haram insurgents came attacking our area, I took my children into a cave one night and hid them there.

“From there, I managed to run away with them to Mubi. It was at Mubi that I got help to come to Gombe.

“I sell akara to earn a living and also feed my family.

“I am living in a rented apartment paid for by my elder sister who is resident in Maiduguri.

“She died two months ago.  I don’t know how I will pay the next rent.

“Only one of my three children is in school. I don’t feel happy that my kids are not in school.

“They have been selling sachet water by the roadside since they can’t go to school.

“If the situation in Borno improves today, I will go back immediately. Unfortunately for us, the problem is not abating.

World Bank fund project managers, NCFRI speak

An official of the World Bank Target Grant Transfer fund project, who identified himself simply as Atiku, declined comment on the allegations levelled by the IDPs on the grounds that he was not competent to speak on the matter.

“May I ask who gave you my phone number?” he asked after laughing and expressing surprise about the IDPs claim.

“I am a journalist who can get any contact I want,” the reporter responded.

Atiku then retorted: “I also have the right to ask how you got my number so that I can channel you to the person who has the competence to respond to your request. I am not the national coordinator. I am just the head of the M and E of the project.  You have every right to… we also encourage disclosure.  I cannot give you any information without the instruction of my national coordinator.

“That was why I was asking if the person that gave you my number knew the right person to handle this. He would have channeled you to the national coordinator who has the competence to give the information. I don’t have it.

“I put up report, I collect report, I collate report but I don’t have the right to give out any information.  That is what I am trying to tell you.

“The right person to respond to your interview is the national coordinator.”

The National Coordinator of the project, Hajara Sami, did not answer the calls made to her mobile telephone.

She, however, responded tersely to a text message sent by the reporter, saying: “Ok. Wl (will) call when I’m out of noisy environment.”

She was, however, yet to call at the time of filing this report.

Also contacted to clear the air on the IDPs’ allegation of neglect and being short-changed by government agencies, the spokesman of National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and IDPs (NCFRMI), Abdul Onu, said:“I am actually not in town now. But there is an SA (Special Assistant) Media to the commissioner now. I will introduce you to him so that you can take it up from there.”

He was also yet to send the contact at the time of filing this report.

Cullled from The Nation Newspaper  (Nigeria)

 

 

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Investigation

Migrant Return and Reintegration: Complex, Challenging, Crucial

Photo: Alexander Bee/ IOM

Cameroon — Since the COVID-19 outbreak, many Cameroonian migrants, like countless others from West and Central Africa, have been stranded, en route to their destinations due to lack of resources or because countries closed borders to stop the spread of the virus.

Despite these restrictions, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) continues to provide voluntary return assistance to stranded migrants along migration routes.

Between January and June 2021, 233 Cameroonians benefited from IOM’s assisted voluntary return and reintegration programme, including 194 men, 19 women and 20 children (13 boys and 7 girls). These returnees, who were already receiving holistic assistance from IOM’s protection teams in transit centres in Niger, were able to return home, where most of them have started their reintegration process.

“My brother and I waited five months in Niger. The situation was not always easy but what helped us hold out under this circumstance was the fact that despite how long it would take, we would soon be back home,” said Youssouf, a returnee from Algeria.

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Photo : Alexander Bee/ IOM

Under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, IOM works closely with the Cameroonian authorities and non-governmental organizations, through a transparent and inclusive approach at all stages of the process.

Eric Atangana, reintegration counsellor at the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Civic Education, said the reintegration process starts with screening migrants, including checking their identity A reintegration plan is then developed in counselling sessions between the migrant and a counsellor.

“Subsequently, a project summary sheet is drafted and validated during a sectoral committee made up of several actors, including a government representative, a civil society representative and IOM staff,’’ Atangana said.

“After the committee has validated the project, the business plan is developed and adjusted accordingly. This ensures that the case is completed and finalized, then forwarded to the reintegration unit for the funding process.”. In practice, this process is far from a smooth ride.

Photo : Alexander Bee/ IOM

It is complex, multidimensional, and requires the continued collaboration of all stakeholders. For example, some of the migrants have trouble establishing their national identity cards, which are crucial to receive economic support. Then there are lags for some reintegration projects because of lack of constancy and/or dedication of some returnees applying for socioeconomic reintegration.

Arnaud, 31, who returned from Algeria in January this year, initially faced a tough time but has settled in, although challenges remain. “Since I started keeping and selling broiler chickens, I am focused on this activity. Before my reintegration, I worked on construction sites and that was exhausting and poorly paid. Now I focus on my chickens,’’ Arnaud said.

‘‘Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the business is quite precarious; suppliers are having trouble delivering the products, so I face delays in meeting my commitments and this compromises my production schedule. However, this activity enables me to fully address my needs and, gradually, I am rebuilding my life.”

On top of these hurdles in the reintegration process, more migrants are applying for voluntary return assistance. “Since January 2021, the number of assisted voluntary returns has been increasing. The main challenges in organizing these returns are related to the COVID-19 pandemic response that has entailed decreeing restrictive measures,’’ explained Lonje Bernard, Reintegration Assistant at IOM in Cameroon.

“Returnees must submit negative tests upon arrival dating back three days. They still have to retest at the airport and wait for the results on the spot. This makes everyone feel stressed and nervous. There has been a considerable increase in operations between January and June 2021,” Bernard said.

From June 2017 to date, with funding from the European Union Emergency Trust Fund under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, this programme has enabled more than 5,450 Cameroonian migrants to return and reintegrate.

Support Voice for African Migrants


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Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

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Investigation

Alarm as Nigeria receives 60 new deportees from countries ravaged by COVID-19

  • Returnees melt into society without observing protocols

  • We’re not aware of deportation – Foreign Affairs Ministry, NIDCOM

  • 42 people already deported – FAAN

  • Development portends grave danger – NARD

On May 23, the Federal Government declared 90 returnees from Brazil, India, and Turkey wanted for violating the provisions of the COVID-19 Health Regulations Protection, 2021. The Chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said the affected persons travelled into Nigeria from restricted countries and evaded the mandatory seven-day quarantine for persons arriving from such countries. Surprisingly, the same federal government accepted 60 deportees from Germany and other European countries without plans for them to be quarantined or subjected to fresh COVID-19 tests in the country as stipulated in the guidelines. INNOCENT DURU reports that health experts say the development portends grave danger for the country and the efforts to stop the spread of the pandemic.

 

A number of Nigerian migrants who went in search of greener pastures  to Germany, Austria and Poland were deported penultimate Wednesday amidst the ravaging Coronavirus pandemic. They arrived at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos at exactly 13:30 pm via Air Tanker Airline, which flew back after refueling.

The returnees were subsequently moved out in three batches in a white Coaster bus that dropped them outside the airport. Three women and four children were sighted by our correspondent among the deportees.

Many people at the airport distanced themselves from the deportees with some warning their colleagues to stay away from them because they were coming from regions hard-hit by the deadly virus.

“You better stay away from them if you don’t want to put yourself in danger. How can you stay so close to people who just came back from Germany where the coronavirus infection rate is very high?” one of the workers at the cargo section said as he hurriedly walked away from where the deportees stood despondently.

Contrary to directives by Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 that returnees must “show evidence of payment/appointment for a repeat PCR test in the country and proceed on seven-day self-isolation as per protocol and present (themselves)  at the designated sample collection sites on the 7th day of arrival,” the deportees were merely cleared based on the test results they brought and  presented to the authorities when they arrived at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos.

Some of the deportees who had the means started taking taxis to their various destinations within Lagos. Some who had no relations in Lagos State boarded taxis that took them to where they could get vehicles going to places like Edo, Delta and other states.

“I didn’t pay money in Germany for a repeat Covid test in Nigeria before I was deported. When we landed, I gave them the result of the COVID-19 test I did before coming back.

“They only checked our temperature after profiling us. They didn’t ask us to go and do a repeat COVID-19 test anywhere here in Nigeria. After the profiling, they brought a bus that dropped us here,” one of the deportees said.

His claims were also corroborated by other deportees who spoke with The Nation, saying: “We weren’t asked to do a repeat COVID-19 test here. I was even surprised because I was expecting that they would ask us to go for a fresh test on arrival. In Germany, testing centres are everywhere. You can see them in vans in open places. You can walk into any of them anytime to do your test. I am shocked to see that there is nothing like that here.”

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More than seven days after they returned, the deportees neither went on self isolation nor presented themselves for fresh tests. The authorities did not make any preparation for all that, and this has continued to raise questions about the genuineness of the campaign for people to wear face masks and observe social distancing, among other precautions, while the government and its officials continue to bring in deported migrants from high risk countries without considering the implications for the populace.

Three of the returnees evacuated from Dubai last year tested positive for COVID-19 infection following the tests conducted on them upon arrival in Lagos. They had earlier tested negative in Dubai but the test conducted on them on arrival in Nigeria by the Lagos State Government proved otherwise.

According to the World Health Organisation, the incubation period of coronavirus infection is an average of five to six days and can also take up to 14 days. This is the period between exposure to the virus and patients showing symptoms. In other words, the three patients could have been infected but asymptomatic when they returned, and thus initially tested negative.

Checks conducted by our correspondent revealed that it was  not the first time Nigeria would allow deportees to melt into the society without subjecting them to fresh tests. Last year, December 20 to be precise, The Nation had reported how deportees from Austria and Germany were quietly let into the country without subjecting them to fresh tests or considering the implications of such for the country and its inhabitants.

Surprisingly, government officials are in the habit of denying such deportations or feigning ignorance of them.

FAAN, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, NIDCOM disagree on deportation

Three federal government agencies were in disagreement over the veracity of the deportation exercise penultimate Wednesday.

The Federal Airways Authority of Nigeria told The Nation that the deportation took place, but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) said they were not aware of the exercise.

Spokesperson of FAAN, Henrirtta Yakubu, in a reply to a test message sent by our reporter, listed the countries the deportees came from thus: “Germany (24), Australia (16), Hungary (2). They   arrived on 26-5-21 At about 1330hours on airplane with no GYM registration.

Spokesman of NIDCOM, Rahman Balogun, in a text message, said: “I am not even aware of such deportation. You may wish to get it from the respective embassies or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

When contacted, the spokesman of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Ferdinand Nwoye, simply said: “I am not aware of the deportation.”

When our correspondent reached out to the National Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Monday James, he said: “ I am no longer the PRO. I have been promoted.”

Spokesperson of the service in Lagos, Edet, also said he had been promoted and not in a position to respond to the enquiry. He promised to provide the contact of his successor but was yet to do so at the time of filing this report.

No response was also received from the image maker of Nigeria Port Health, Morenikeji Okoh. A call made to her mobile phone went unanswered. She later sent a text message asking our correspondent to send his request by text message. She didn’t respond to the request either.

When our correspondent called her for a similar request last year, Okoh had said: “You need to know that I cannot give you any information from the ministry because I am not authorised to speak to the media. So, I cannot answer any of those questions.

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It portends grave danger for our health system – NARD

A medical expert and First Vice Chairman of the National Association of Resident Doctors, Dr Arome Adejo, says the practice of allowing people from abroad to mingle with the larger society without carrying out necessary tests on them portends grave danger for the country and its people.

In a telephone chat with our correspondent, he said it is not enough for them to present test results they had done over there on arrival, adding: “If people are leaving here for Germany and on arriving there, they are meant to do the test again. They should also do the same thing here because of the incubation period.

“You might have been exposed after you did the initial test at the airport. They have to repeat the test. If they are allowing them to enter the country without doing the test, it means we don’t know what we are doing.

“If they have been allowed to mingle with the larger society, it is the fault of the people whose responsibility it is to make the deportees do the test.”

Such practice, Arome said, is the reason why they as resident doctors are lamenting  that  people are not held responsible in this country.

He said: “Ours is a country where things are not taken seriously until they escalate. We are not setting our priorities right. They need to repeat the test here on arrival.

“Obviously, it is right for them to come back here and do another test if they have not been vaccinated. If they don’t do the test, it is wrong.

“We have some countries that are seeing their third wave now. We don’t need to introduce the third wave into this country. It is absolutely wrong.”

He also expressed disappointment at claims by government agencies that they were not aware of the deportation, saying: “It is a shame if government agencies say they are not aware of the deportation. Was it not a plane that brought them?

 

“Even if those people are not deportees, everybody coming into the country has certain protocols they must observe.

“We have travelled abroad. There was a time I was kept at the airport abroad for six hours. They should not be saying that they are not aware. If they say so, it is an embarrassment.

“This is why we are saying that people should be held responsible.”

A public affairs analyst and former president of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, Mazi Okechukwu Unegbu, blamed the development on inconsistencies in government policies.

He said: “Our government is like a government of triple or quadruple standard. What you hear today is not what you will hear tomorrow. There is no consistent policy from them.

“Allowing deportees from Germany to come in without subjecting them to tests is very unfortunate, and that is part of the double standards I am talking about.”

He feared that the action of the authorities was tantamount to joking with the lives of the entire citizens.

“They are endangering most of us, particularly those of us that have not had the opportunity of taking the jab.

“Our government needs to be consistent with what they are doing, otherwise, the implication is that they will be endangering the lives of many Nigerians.

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“Economically, it is also very dangerous for the country. The government should realise that any policy they take has an implication on the larger economy.”

Asked if the cost of the tests could have made the authorities take such a decision since the deportees might not have the wherewithal, Unegbu said: “If the government didn’t subject them to tests because of the cost of doing so, it would be dangerous. The government has the responsibility to protect the citizens.

“If possible, the government can bear the cost and make claims on them later. Since they have their passports  they can trace them later.

“But I must tell you that it is  dangerous for them to have allowed them to enter the larger society without the normal process of testing and quarantining them.

“Testing is very important because without it, some of them may not show the actual result.

“The government needs to protect the citizens through their policies. Unfortunately, some of the civil servants are just too careless. If you come out of the airport and see how they behave, you will wonder how Nigeria is not having a pandemic escalated beyond what we have.

“Honestly, Nigeria is blessed through nature and not through the actions of our workers.”

German authorities snatched our children from us – Deportees

Some of the deportees alleged that the German authorities took their children from them before they were deported.

One of them, a fair complexioned woman, had lost her voice crying over the loss of her only child to the German authorities. She was said to have cried from when they left the airport in Germany till she arrived in Lagos.

She said: “They took my 18-year-old daughter from me. I don’t know how I will see her again.

“They brainwashed her seriously and immediately they took her from me. I was put in prison before they deported me.

“I have not eaten for the past five days because I didn’t want them to poison my food. They handcuffed me and tied me to my seat with a belt.

“My concern is about my daughter.”

Another deportee said: “They took my children from me and kept me in prison for 18 months before deporting me.

“I would advise you not to travel to a white man’s country because they are very wicked.”

Nigeria’s coronavirus cases compared in Germany, Austria, and Hungary

Checks on countries where the migrants were deported from showed that they have extremely higher cases than Nigeria.

Germany, at the time of compiling this report, ranked 10th on the global COVID-19 chart with over 3,692,908 cases and 89,316 deaths. Hungary placed 32nd with 804,987 cases and 29,774 deaths. Austria placed 38 with 645,552 and 10, 621 deaths. Nigeria ranks distant 81 with 166,534 and 2,099 deaths.

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Investigation

IOM launches urgent $140 million appeal to support communities and refugees in Cox’s Bazar

Cox’s Bazar – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has launched an Appeal for USD 140 million to support over 1.3 million host community members and Rohingya refugees residing in Cox’s Bazar District in Bangladesh.

For the nearly 900,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, 2021 marks the fourth year since their mass displacement from Myanmar, preceded by decades of influxes spurned by systematic discrimination and targeted violence.

While the Government of Bangladesh and the international community have maintained the provision of immediate life-saving assistance, the needs are immense and complex challenges continue to emerge and reshape the nature of the response.

“Under the leadership of the Government of Bangladesh, we will continue to work closely with our partners and uphold our commitment to safeguard the well-being and dignity of both Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and their host communities,” said António Vitorino, IOM Director General.

“At the same time, the international community must continue to advocate for sustainable solutions in Myanmar that would eventually facilitate what all Rohingya refugees have consistently voiced as their main concern — to return home.”

READ  IOM's Global Migration Data Analysis Centre releases report on 'Migration from and within West and North Africa'

The humanitarian community swiftly shifted priorities in 2020 to respond to the impact of COVID-19 on the Rohingya residing in the 34 congested refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar district. COVID-19 interventions were scaled up, and other humanitarian services adjusted, according to guidelines on access and presence to reduce the spread of infection.

A recent UN survey revealed a decrease in shelter maintenance and livelihoods, and deterioration in the protection environment. These challenges, and others such as monsoon and cyclone preparedness and response, will remain at the forefront of the response in 2021.

IOM will continue to provide life-saving emergency shelter and core relief items to support households affected by the recent devastating fire, monsoon and other disasters and shocks. The team will strengthen safe and dignified living conditions through rationalized and participatory site planning and through environmentally conscious construction and site maintenance initiatives.

The activities outlined in the appeal promote equitable access to mental health and psychosocial support services for all crisis-affected individuals. IOM also aims to encourage the use of essential healthcare packages among refugees and host communities by countering misinformation and supporting community engagement.

READ  IOM launches urgent $140 million appeal to support communities and refugees in Cox’s Bazar

The impact of the crisis on the affected areas in Cox’s Bazar District likewise requires concerted efforts to support host communities affected by price increases and strained livelihoods.

IOM will enhance the livelihoods and resilience of women, girls, men and boys who are part of vulnerable host communities, and support social protection interventions in cooperation with the Government of Bangladesh. The organization will also continue to address the urgent cooking fuel needs of refugees through the provision of alternative clean fuel and technology.

“Together with the Government and our local partners, we will contribute to the peaceful coexistence of Rohingya refugees and host communities,” said Giorgi Gigauri, IOM Chief of Mission in Bangladesh. “Ensuring a community-based approach to the response, the teams will continue to improve the participation of affected people through community feedback and collective data analysis.”

IOM’s Global Crisis Response Platform provides an overview of IOM’s plans and funding requirements to respond to the evolving needs and aspirations of those impacted by, or at risk of, crisis and displacement in 2021 and beyond.

READ  'Our battles with depression, stigmatization after return from Libya’

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