A University Lecturer, Dr Abiola Adimula, has called on the Federal Government to direct the relevant ministries and agencies to take proactive measures aimed at preventing internally Displaced Persons, IDP, camps from COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
Mrs Adimula, a Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies, CPSS, University of Ilorin, made the call on Monday, in a position paper.
The don noted that IDP camps are mostly characterised by overcrowded populations amidst severe infrastructure deficits.
According to her, IDPs population in Nigeria are dominated by poorly educated, rural, farm-folks, who are hardly able to achieve meaningful livelihood in their new, mostly urban settlements.
She pointed out that they are typically impoverished and dependent on humanitarian aid for even their sustenance; and have very limited access to healthcare or Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) amenities.
Mrs Adimula also expressed regret that IDPs in Nigeria are in very significant jeopardy, advising that immediate intervention is necessary to decongest the IDP camps across the country.
This, she said, could be done by allocating some IDPs to school buildings, which are presently not in use, as all school premises are currently empty since pupils and students are under the stay-at-home order.
“This can temporarily sort the problem of overcrowding in IDP camps that can fuel the COVID-19 infection,” she said.
“The government should provide improved clean water, soap, sanitiser, washing areas in large numbers in addition to whatever health services in IDP camps, to ensure that IDPs keep good hygiene in this critical period and also, provision of food items to the IDPs is key in this period,” she said.
Mrs Adimula further appealed to the Federal Government to ensure regular and consistent supply of palliative materials to enhance good upkeep that will prevent brewing of other conflicts in the camps.
She added that most of the IDPs are not engaged in any job, and the few ones who are engaged are mostly into daily paid jobs.
“Hunger, idleness, restriction to move around and the present lockdown can instigate violence and fuel insecurity and health challenges to Nigerian’s population.
“Palliative interventions and support from global bodies, captains of industries and the government should go extensively into supporting the IDPs to keep them away from COVID-19 infection and in turn, keep Nigeria safe,” said Mrs Adimula.
The expert and a Lawyer, however, noted that there is a need for the Federal Government to build a road map of reintegration of the IDPs by preventing protracted displacement.
She explained that reintegration is the phase of coordinated exit from the camp and reintegration into the society as self-sustaining individuals through strengthening of IDP responses.
Mrs Adimula expressed the belief that this is to facilitate the protection of their rights while allowing a systematic exit of IDPs instead of creating an IDP conundrum.