Some Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS) from different locations in Kaduna State on Wednesday cried out for help over lack of shelter, hunger, and loss of means of livelihood.
The displaced persons are camped in an IDP center in Kaduna.
They told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews that they were forced out of their homes in 2020 due to exacerbating kidnappings and banditry activities in the state.
Many of the displaced persons, mainly from communities of Birnin Gwari, Igabi and Chikun Local Government Areas of the state, are also currently taking refuge in safer communities at the homes of relatives.
The Chairman of the IDPs at Zahu community, Gonin Gora, Mr. Habila Madami, told NAN that their lives were hanging in the balance with no hope of the situation getting better.
Madami, a father of eight, said they were forced out of their home at Rumana, along Lagos Road, Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of the state since January 6, 2020, by bandits terrorising the area.
“We lost our means of livelihood and now live as refugees in our own state in communities that open their doors for us to either live in their homes or pay rent.
“We are living a life of agony with no hope of returning to our homes in sight with our old fathers and mothers worried about where their children would be buried when they died,” he said.
He added that another big challenge threatening the survival of the IDPs was hunger, explaining that the displacement denied them access to their farmlands to grow food crops to feed their families.
He added that the recent flood in some parts of the state had worsened their situation, stressing that the little lands some of the IDPs were able to rent and cultivate were washed by the flood.
Similarly, the IDPs Coordinator in the area, Mr Caleb Nayaro, also said that the displacement had forced their children out of school and lost their source of income to finance their children’s education.
“Access to health services is another challenge, with the nearest health facility about three kilometres from Zahu community, where most of the IDPs were taking refuge.
“Our women and adolescent girls are now exposed to sexual violence and prostitution just to survive, eat, and be able to pay rent.
“Other people are taking advantage of our vulnerability to traffic our little children or subject them to child labour as domestic servant in the name of house help.
“We have gotten over 50 requests from individuals who requested that we give them our children to take care of since we cannot cater for them, considering our homeless and starving situation,” Nayaro said.
He disclosed that more than eight displaced persons who attempted to return to their homes or to harvest farm produce never came back.
“They were killed by the bandits in their farms while others were killed in their homes in the deserted communities,” he said.
He called on the state government to designate a land in a safe location to resettle the IDPs so that they can have the opportunity to rebuild their lives.
Also, Mrs Abigail Iliya, 38, a displaced woman from Paka Kadi community, Chikun LGA, said that her family lost everything to the bandits, adding they were currently living from hand to mouth.
“We are currently selling fuelwood to survive but it is risky and unsustainable, considering the risk of being raped in the bush while collecting the fuel wood.
“I am appealing to the government and other organisations to look into our plight and come to our aid, particularly food supplies and financial support to enable us to pay rent, considering our joblessness,” Iliya said.
Similarly, Mrs Mary Luka, 30, a mother of five, displaced from Rumana and currently camping at Federal College of Forestry, Buruku, expressed concern over the future of her children.
“I want a settled home so that my children will be able to attend school to prevent them from ending up in the street and becoming ready tools for criminality.
“The government and its partners can organise skill acquisition for internally displaced women to be self-reliant and be able to support their husbands to rebuild their lives,” she said.
Sharing his experience, Mr John Tanko, 70, said he was forced to abandon his home at Wuya Village along Abuja expressway when his brother was killed, and his daughter kidnapped.
Tanko, who is currently staying at Unguan Madaki, Chikun LGA, says, “I am living by the grace of God not knowing how or when the next meal will come or how to even pay my rent”.
Another IDP, Mr Saleh Nayaro, a Christian missionary, said that he retired to his Rumana village, living an agrarian life when he was forced to abandon his home to a life of uncertainty.
“My farm produce was destroyed by herders, my cows and motorcycle were stolen at gunpoint by bandits, and was forced out of my community with nothing,” he said.
The secretary of the IDPs Coordination Centre, Mr Emmanuel Yari, said that the centre had a database of about 7,000 IDPs displaced between 2020 to date, living in different communities around the area.
Yari said that 2,004 were residing in Zahu, 1,818 at Buruku, 636 at Sabon Gida, 600 at Buwaya, 1,000 at Kakau, 200 at unguwan Madaki, and 700 at Kadi.
Mr Silas Ideva, Programme Manager, Carelink Resource Foundation (CRF), said that the organisation, with support from Ladies Empowerment Goals and Support Initiative (LEGASI), has trained over 2,000 displaced adolescent girls and young women in Zahu community.
According to him, the goal is to improve resilience and coping skills of IDPs that survived attacks and taking refuge at Zahu and other neighbouring communities.
“The project also aimed to promote safe space by establishing a support group of women and empower them through Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA).
“It was also designed to strengthen the capacity of community and opinion leaders in the community to respond to Gender Based Violence (GBV) related issues.”
The Commissioner of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr Samuel Aruwan, said that the number of people killed linked to banditry has increased from 937 in 2020 to 1,192 in 2021.
Aruwan added the number of people kidnapped had also increased from 1,972 in 2020 to 3,348 in 2021, adding that the government was doing all it could to address the issues.