There has been much talk about the effect the Coronavirus pandemic and the eventual lock down of basic services it has necessitated will affect the global economy. Already in the United States of America, 22 million people have applied for unemployment benefits, a number that is more than half the entire population of Canada. Things are dire where ever we look and it suggests that they will only get worse, especially for the people who were already struggling before the pandemic hit. In Nigeria, there is no disadvantaged group who have it as bad as the Internally displaced persons scattered in camps across the country and struggling to make ends meet.
Sectarian violence and religious extremism has led to the displacement of Nigerians across the country, it is especially heinous in North Eastern Nigeria, where nearly a decade of religious extremism by Boko Haram has left the region devastated, its economy essentially non-existent and its displaced citizens at the mercy of the government. A government that refuses to prioritize their return to their homes and finds excuses to justify the continued reign of Boko Haram in the region.
The Coronavirus pandemic and ensuing lockdown worsens their reality because they can no longer perform menial tasks for a daily wage, the non-profit organizations who provide vital food and healthcare can no longer reach these communities. And essential services like the Fire Brigade take longer to reach Internally Displaced Persons camps. This is what happened a few days ago when 14 people were killed and dozens others injured by a fire at a camp in Ngala local government in Borno State. d President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday evening described as “extremely horrifying,” the news of the death of 14 persons and injury to many from the fire incident at an IDP camp in Ngala, Borno State.
The fact that no one will be held accountable for their deaths is painful, and the fact that they remain displaced in the first place is an indictment on our government’s capacity to serve its people. The government must ensure Internally Displaced Persons are given extra attention during these perilous times and treated with priority.
It is the only way we win this war without mass casualities.