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Agencies Need to Empower Former Displaced Persons for Self-reliance: Nigerian Bishop

Poster announcing the commissioning event. Credit : Courtesy Photo

There is a need for agencies, be they government or humanitarian, to empower former Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), according them opportunities for self-reliance, a Nigerian Bishop has emphasized.

Speaking during the commissioning of the Sangere-Marghi IDP Resettlement Estate in Girei Local Government Area of Adamawa State in the territory covered by Yola Diocese, Bishop Stephen Dami Mamza regretted the fact that IDPs are not accorded opportunities to work toward self-reliance.

“We appeal to government and humanitarian actors that displaced persons need to be given opportunities to be productive and self-reliant, as against being passive recipients of aid, which results in dependency syndrome,” Bishop Mamza said during the Monday, April 12 event.

The Nigerian Bishop who has been at the helm of Yola Diocese since April 2011 added that the leadership of the West African country should “treat displaced populations as contributors to local development by giving them access to socioeconomic activity.”

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“These former IDPs need to receive strong reintegration and rehabilitation support to build their livelihoods and contribute to long-term economic and political development,” he said, adding that former displaced persons need “reintegration and rehabilitation support to promote long-term economic and social development.”

With proper support, the 51-year-old Bishop said, former displaced persons can serve as critical and essential human resources toward the rebuilding of the host communities where they resettle.

The resettlement of the displaced persons can “represent a visible end to violent conflict, legitimize the new political order, and restore normal life for the conflict-affected population,” the Bishop who has been recognized widely for his peace initiatives in Nigeria further said.

During the April 12 event, Bishop Mamza commissioned 43 apartments, which are divided into two houses each, to accommodate at least 86 families who have been camping at St. Theresa’s Cathedral of Yola Diocese for at least five years following the Boko Haram insurgency.

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Besides the houses, the project which lies on a 10-hectare piece of land comprises a primary school, health facility, five boreholes, a church and a mosque. 

In a February 8 interview with ACI Africa, Bishop Mamza said that the idea to construct permanent houses for IDPs was conceived two years ago to provide a more sustainable solution to the challenges facing those displaced from their villages and whose homes had been destroyed.

In the February interview, the Nigerian Bishop told ACI Africa that he had noted that IDPs get tired living in camps and want to start their lives afresh.

Additionally, he said, donors are becoming fatigued and it has become difficult for the Diocese to sustain the livelihoods of those living in camps for IDPs.

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In his message during the April 12 event that had political and religious leaders in attendance, including Catholic Bishops Matthew Hassan Kukah and Bulus Dauwa Yohanna of Sokoto and Kontagora Dioceses respectively, Bishop Mamza urged the government to support the social development of the resettled persons.

“We continue to advocate for this population to have access to livelihoods, which will enable them to rebuild their lives and give them a sense of ownership in the reconstruction of their new resettlement here in Sangere-Marghi,” the Bishop of Yola who is serving his second term as the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Adamawa State said. 

Acknowledging that COVID-19 has deepened humanitarian needs and negatively affected the economy thus affecting the displaced population and other Nigerians, the Bishop appealed to the people of God in the West African country to “be moved by the milk of human kindness to help alleviate the sufferings of these our brothers and sisters in need.”