- *They threatened to evict me from camp because I confronted them —Egebgi, IDP
- *How we’re catering for IDPs —NEMA, SEMA coordinators
By Emem Idio
AMASSOMA- BY virtue of the general tragedy that befell flood victims, it was expected that the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, would be treated with equivalent empathy, but not so in Bayelsa, the worst impacted state in the country, where camp coordinators and youths steal relief materials and blatantly display partiality against non-indigenes.
It was gathered that they usually smuggle the relief materials out in the night and sell them to people, while the IDPs the materials were meant for, groan.
NDV reporter, who visited IDPs camps in Southern Ijaw, Sagbama, Kolokuma-Opokuma, Ogbia and Yenagoa Local Government Areas of the state, observed that victims in camps coordinated by officials of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA and State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, enjoy a little comfort and have access to relief items unlike those in administration camps, but find themselves in privately run camps where relief materials are nonexistent.
However, in both governments and community- owned camps, there are widespread complains of uneven distribution of items and discrimination against non- indigenes.
At Fortunate Group of Schools IDPs camp, Amassoma community, victims pointed fingers at the various camp coordinators, who they accused them of diverting and hoarding relief materials, while non indigenes also alleged prejudice against them.
Relief materials vanish after donation say IDPs
An IDP, who spoke with NDV during the presentation of relief items to the camp in Amassoma by the Keniebi Okoko Movement, KOM, said: “We have no reason to be excited because all these materials will disappear immediately the donors leave. We do not enjoy anything.”
“The youths and camp coordinators will divert everything for their personal benefits, nothing gets to us here, and they are using our sufferings to enrich themselves. We would have preferred a situation where the donors will distribute and share it to us before they leave, otherwise after they leave, we will not see anything,” she said bitterly.
A non-indigene and trader based in Amassoma, Mrs. Awah Sambo, said they were never considered in the sharing formula, saying that they were told the materials were strictly for indigenes.
Amassoma CDC chair promises to investigate
But the Chairman, Community Development Committee, CDC, Amassoma community, Mr. Samuel Birabebe, dismissed the claim, said: “I am not aware that the camp coordinators are playing fast ones with the relief materials.”
“Amassoma is perhaps the worst hit community and we have over 20 IDPs camps and what we do is that whenever we have donations, we try to share with other camps, so that others will also have a sense of belonging. However, if we find out that some persons are hoarding relief items, we will not hesitate to change such persons,” he said.
Igbogene camp seems like destitute home
For a first time visitor to the largest government NEMA IDPs camp located in Igbogene, outskirts of the state capital, it looks nothing short of a home occupied by destitutes.
An uncompleted one story building with torn building roofs and rough edges leaves much to desire. But this is where over 1,300 stranded victims of the flood are currently seeking refuge and are being catered for by NEMA and SEMA. This was the first port of call of Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, when he visited the camps.
They steal at night; sell in daylight—Egebgi
An IDP in the camp, 55-year-old Douti Egebgi, said: “I have spent almost two weeks plus here, I have only been given a blanket and foam, but the way NEMA are treating us is bad. The relief materials from religious organizations and well meaning individuals do not get to us.”
“State government has not given us anything, House of Assembly has not given us anything, but anything coming to NEMA, at night these people smuggle the items out and sell them. They do it daily, I had to confront them but they begged me to calm down.
“The food we are eating, we are not satisfied, just two meals, it is fighting and rancor every day, it is rice and eba and soup with one meat. The federal government said they should be killing one cow daily but we are not seeing it. We want the raw food but they have refused to give us the raw food and this big people are hoarding the food, they are telling you lies. They want to send me away because I threatened to report them.”
Things not shared equitably —Asabaemi
Margaret Asabaemi, who spoke in the same vein, asserted: “Since I came here three weeks ago, I have only been given this net and blanket, look at others and look at me, while others are sleeping on foams, am sleeping on the bare floor. Things are not equitably shared, some get more, others do not get.”
“We, here, at the upstairs are suffering because when they are sharing, they do not come to our areas to attend to us. If not for God, maybe we would not have gotten this blanket and mosquitoes nets. I will not lie, they are giving us food, but apart from the food, other things do not get to us, we are not happy but we are telling and pleading with them every day. When high profile personalities come to visit, they do not bring them to come and see us,” she said.
Kariboko criticizes fellow IDPs
However, another IDP, Mr. Joseph Kariboko, who frowned at the attitude of some of the IDPs, also told NDV: “Some of our people are too wicked and greedy, some have collected these items more than once, they will go and hide it or send some to their people outside, but they will be the one complaining and abusing the officials for no just cause. The officials are trying their best because it is not easy to manage human beings,” he said.
People would always complain —Ayie, SEMA coordinator
Reacting, SEMA Coordinator, YELGA, Mr. Asiowei Ayi, said: “We are keeping the camp going, but it is unfortunate that no matter what you do people will always complain like Oliver Twist that they need more.”
“We cook, you can see evidence that something is happening here and we pray and hope that the federal government should do more, they are trying, most especially NEMA, they should do more to compliment the efforts of the state government.”
Sulieman, NEMA coordinator speaks on FG efforts
Also reacting, NEMA Coordinator in charge of Bayelsa and Rivers State, Mr. Yakubu Sulieman, told NDV at Igbogene IDPs camp: “At the last count, we have over I,200 registered IDPs, more people are still coming but we do not know where they are coming from maybe because of what the state and federal governments are doing, the incentives they are given and how they are been taken care of are attracting people to this camp.”
“We are considering relocating some people to camp B. we have a routine register to that effect. It is very hectic as usual, camp running is always a very hectic exercise, but we in NEMA are used to this, we are veteran in this area, we have provided all they need in this camp for the IDPs.
“The state government for now is feeding this camp but NEMA as an institution is also ready with food items for this camp, St John’s Catholic Church camp, the Agudama Primary School camp and Igbogene Primary School camp. We are giving food items to Toru-Orua camp, Sampou camp and that of Biseni camp is ready.
“We have also created tents in more than 15 locations here in Bayelsa where people are taking shelter because of the flood, we are going to provide shelter for them because apparently they are stranded and NEMA did evacuation in those locations.
“In the morning we provide them with tea, milk and sugar and other beverages. We go by the household measurement and we are giving them items. We also have a formula that we use in giving food items, we call it the basket formula, 25kg of rice to a household comprising of six to eight people. Then 25 kg of garri per household, red oil, beverages per household and other beverages which is the United Nations standard for feeding in camps.
How we’re fighting diseases in camps
“We have also brought medication for children because as the water is receding they are developing skin diseases, so we now took delivery of medical supplies from NEMA headquarters to ensure that this skin disease that is contacted by adult and children here is eradicated, it is a matter of rubbing it on their body after bath.
“Also diarrhea is also affecting the people because as the water is receding, they are developing diarrhea, but I want to also put it on notice that NEMA has a water purifier, the quality of the water that comes out of the purifier is better than the bottle water that we buy in the market.
“All the water we used in cooking and drinking are from the water purifier, we don’t allow them to drink water from the borehole if not another epidemic would have broken out here. The water from the borehole is for bathing and washing only,” he said.
According to him, “The toilet facilities here is excellent, we have a committee on (WASH-Water Shelter and Sanitation) and we have been on it and on their own, the IDPs are doing sanitation on alternate days, otherwise this place would have been littered with sachet water bags and this place is frequently fumigated by the state government that is why we have a great hygiene and the disease level reduced.”