From: Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri
More than two third of people displaced by Boko Haram crisis in the northeast are not willing to return to their liberated communities, a new study by an international humanitarian body indicated.
Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), in a new report titled ‘Not Ready to Return,’ released in Maiduguri late Wednesday, said vast majority of the 1.8 million people displaced in the three affected States are not ready to return to their place of origin.
“The finding of the report are undisputed. When 86 per cent of people tell us they aren’t ready to go home yet, we must listen. This cannot fall on deaf ward,” NRC Secretary General, Jan Egeland said at a press conference in Maiduguri late Wednesday.
Egeland said the council conducted a survey by seeking for the opinion of the 27, 000 IDPs from 12 local governments on their safe return home. “The report was commissioned by NRC, in partnership with REACH, the Danish Refugee Council and the Protection Cluster in Nigeria,” he disclosed.
He said governments in Nigeria were keen to see communities move back home. He said the end game was for IDPs to return home in the post-insurgency era but warned that pushing people back now will have harmful consequences.
“An overwhelming 85 per cent tell us they feel safer there than where they were before, despite the deplorable attacks on camps,” he said.
He cited the case of a woman he met during his visit to Monguno town. He said the woman who fled her village two years ago after Boko Haram set it ablaze, was eager to bring her six children home, but she told me it’s too soon, that the armed group are still present.
“Even if the security situation improves, half the displaced people interviewed say their houses were destroyed in the conflict,” he stated. He said 48 per cent of people interviewed do not have information about their current state of their homes.
NRC urged the authority to improve on the security situation to make the communities safer. It also canvassed for the inclusion of the affected persons in the rebuilding and resettlement programme.
Nearly 2.5 million people have been displaced in the six years old violence in the northeast.