Displacement & MigrationNews

Departing IDPs Hopeful Yet Wary As Borno Commences Closure Of Muna Camp

The state government says it has set aside ₦955 million for the resettlement and to provide support for the displaced people.

The government of Borno state in northeastern Nigeria initiated the resettlement of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Muna, an unofficial camp, on Friday, June 7, as part of efforts to permanently close all camps in the capital city of Maiduguri.

The government says it has set aside 954.7 million for the resettlement and to provide support for the IDPs.

Residents of the camp are being relocated to nine local government areas (LGAs) across the state. The resettlement plan affects about 12,985 individuals — including 4,880 male heads of households, 1,230 female heads of households, 6,875 married women — and their family members. The first phase targets communities in six LGAs: Bama, Gwoza, Jere, Konduga, Kukawa, and Ngala.

Governor of Borno state, Babagana Zulum, who flagged off the event, said, “Each of the 4,880 male heads of households and another 1,230 female heads of households would receive 100,000 ($66), while about 6,875 married women each received 50,000 ($33) cash.” Additionally, the married women would receive essential supplies such as maize, rice, mattresses, mats, oil, and kitchen utensils.

Highlighting the collaborative effort with the federal government, Zulum said the food items given to the returnees are from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). 

“A few days ago, we launched the distribution of food items donated to the government of Borno by the federal government at Pulka. I want to commend President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the office of the Vice President, and NEMA for partnering with us to ensure sustainable resettlement of the IDPs in this very important camp.”

He justified the closure of the camp, saying it harboured various vices.

“I think the people of Borno state will attest that this is one of the most infamous camps in the state. There is widespread prostitution, irresponsible procreation, and above all, a high level of criminal activity, including theft and robbery, taking place in this camp.”

A large group of people in colorful clothing gathered under a hazy sky.
Departing IDPs of Muna Camp. Photo credit: Abdulkareem Haruna/HumAngle

The state authorities already shut down nine official displacement camps in and around Maiduguri between May 2021 and December 2022, a move that affected over 153,000 people. Muna camp alone, however, is estimated to host over 51,000 IDPs, which might have caused the delay in the resettlement process.

Zulum described the resettlement as voluntary and in compliance with international standards. 

“All these IDPs have expressed their willingness to return to their ancestral homes or other areas with relative peace and tranquillity. So, the resettlement is in line with the Kampala Convention, which signifies that IDPs are to be resettled dignifiedly,” he said.

But studies conducted by various non-governmental organisations showed that displaced people often had mixed feelings about the resettlement programme.

A survey of IDPs in northeastern Nigeria conducted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) between November and December last year found that 37 per cent preferred to return to their ancestral communities because of various challenges they face in their current locations and improved security. They said they would be willing to resettle if their safety, livelihoods, and shelter were guaranteed.

Another 38 per cent of the respondents preferred integrating into their current locations, “citing better security, the loss of everything in their home community, economic opportunities, and better services”.

Despite the structured support, IDPs being resettled from the Muna Camp expressed concerns about their future livelihoods. “We are grateful for the cash and supplies, but what we need is a way to sustain ourselves once we get home,” said Yagana Mohammed.

Dahiru Mohammed-Bulama, an IDP from Marte LGA, expressed mixed feelings about the closure of the camp and their planned return home. 

“Of course, one would be happy that after about ten years of being displaced, one is returning home,” he said.

“Our major concern is that Marte is still not safe for livelihood activities because we have information that people are only being allowed to go searching for means of survival once a week or fortnightly. How possible would our survival be if we could only go to look for food or go to the market once every two weeks? That is not going to be sustainable, and we hope the government will help improve the situation there by allowing us to farm or go to the market four or five times a week. Else, we all starve to death.”

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Abdulkareem Haruna

Abdulkareem Haruna is a Nigerian journalist currently employed as the Editor for Lake Chad at HumAngle. For over a decade, he has demonstrated a passionate commitment to reporting on the Boko Haram conflict and the crisis in the Lake Chad region of northeastern Nigeria. He is a graduate of English Language and holds a Diploma in Mass Communications. Prior to his current role, he served as an assistant editor at both Premium Times and Leadership Newspaper.

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