Mr Jose-Antonio Canhadula, Country representative, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Nigeria, has said that the solution to Nigeria’s North-East crises resulting from the Boko Haram insurgency was political and not humanitarian.
Canhandula made this assertion on Thursday in Abuja during a roundtable organised by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), a German foundation on “Internal Displacement, the Media and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the one-day roundtable was organised in collaboration with the House Committee on IDPs, Refugees and Initiatives on North East.
According to Canhadula, humanitarian aid workers can only support in alleviating the sufferings of the victims of insurgency by providing protection and basic needs, which is not the solution to their problems.
The solution to their problems, he said, was for the conflict to come to an end, peace and stability returning to their communities, so that they can live a normal life like every other Nigerian citizen.
Canhadula said that these could only be achieved when the government shows the political will by taking actions to stop the lingering conflict in the North-East region and implementing peace sustaining policies.
“Humanitarian programme is not a solution to a situation like this and if we are not careful, five years from now if not much is done the situation will be disastrous.
“It is a political one and what we should be talking about are strategies and ways to solving the situation.
“Although, the conflict situation have improved in Adamawa and Yobe states but the impact of displacement is still felt and the IDPs and refugees are still in dire need of assistance.
“In Borno State, there is still a serious security situation that does not allow humanitarians to assists as some communities are still inaccessible,” Canhadula said.
Canhadula also pointed out that the rate of sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) was also on the rise in IDPs camps, which should be urgently looked into and addressed.
The UNHCR Representative disclosed that in April, 345 women were reported to be assaulted in camps across Borno, which he further described as an attack on human dignity.
He said that UNHCR has been providing protection support amongst many other interventions to displaced Nigerians in IDPs camps and those who are refugees in neighboring countries; Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
Canhandula called on the media for indepth reportage on the North-East situation to create awareness on the situation and plights of IDPs and to carry out investigative journalism to bring to light unlawful activities.
Also speaking, Hon. Sani Zoro, Chairman, House Committee on IDPs, Refugees and Initiatives on North-East called on the Media and CSOs to push for the domestication of the relevant instruments protecting IDPs.
Zoro said that that Nigeria had ratified the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of IDPs, also known as the Kampala Convention, which was yet to be domesticated.
He said that the National Policy on IDPs, which has been on the table of the executive arm of government since 2016 has not yet been domesticated.
He explained that these documents when domesticated and implemented would help in addressing the challenges faced by displaced persons.
Zoro also called on journalists to adequately report human rights issues and violations in the North East and across all sectors.
According to him, it is important for the government and people to attach value to human rights as it is done in developed countries, so that persons of concerns could be adequately protected.
“It is not normal to kill people, that is the kind of value that must be attached to human lives and the press must champion it.
“Entrenched in the Nigerian constitution and all the declaration on human rights, is the right to life.
“Nigerian journalists must know that in their reportage they must be able to link these rights of everyone that everyone has the right to life.
“Human rights issues and violations are being underreported but I am happy the CSOs that have emerged have tried to champion the course of democracy and human rights.
“So there is that consciousness that people have human rights’’, Zoro said.