Gubio camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Maiduguri, Borno State capital in Northeast Nigeria was one of the locations the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, visited two weeks ago during his working trip to the state. But the IDPs who hosted him, at one of the state’s most neglected camps, said they were yet to feel the impact of the foremost humanitarian aid worker’s presence in their facility.
“They told us that the UN Secretary-General is the biggest humanitarian worker in the world, and we were all excited that his visit would end our sufferings but that hasn’t been the case,” said Idris Musa, an IDP.
“Long before the arrival of the UN Secretary-General, Gubio camp has been abandoned with IDPs starving in hunger because NGOs had stopped all palliative support for over seven months now. And even after he came and left nothing has improved here.”
HumAngle gathered that Guterres’ visit to the Gubio camp was a last-minute itinerary alteration after the UN secretary-general cancelled his earlier plans to visit the Banki border town of Borno State.
Top officials of the Borno State government had informed HumAngle that the earlier arrangement was for the UN chief to be flown in a helicopter to Banki, a border town 134km away from Maiduguri, where he was expected to hand over building accommodation projects done by the UN to the Borno State government for onward distribution to the affected returnee IDPs and refugees.
About two hours to the time of the UN secretary general’s arrival, information circulated that the Banki trip had been canceled and that he would instead be visiting Gubio Camp as part of his altered itinerary in Maiduguri.
HumAngle has, in the past months, published a series of reports about the dehumanising conditions of residents at the Gubio camp.
Guterres had also visited a holding facility in Maiduguri where some repentant Boko Haram fighters were rehabilitated before heading for Gubio camp, and then finally ending his trip at the state’s government house.
At Gubio Camp, the UN Secretary-General, who was accompanied by the Borno State governor, Babagana Zulum, met with a selection of IDPs in a closed-door session in one of the safe buildings where he briefly interacted with them through a translator.
Gubio camp has about 5,400 households of over 27,000 IDPs who are mostly women and children. HumAngle learnt that only six IDPs (mostly community leaders) were selected to meet with the UN Secretary-General.
“Only three of them were given the chance to speak during the meeting while the three others were excused ‘for want of time’.
“One of the speakers, who is the overall chairman of Gubio camp only thanked the Governor of Borno state for recently profiling us ahead of our expected return to our local government area, while the other speaker, a woman, appealed for the provision of basic means of livelihood lacking in the camp,” said Bashir Mohammed, an IDP from Baga town.
The IDPs said they were shocked that nothing was said about the resumed provision of food rations to the camp.
“There was no specific promise for livelihood support for us even as we continue to wait for, God knows when, the government would return us finally to our respective home.”
Asked if there was any move by either government or NGOs to resume food distribution in the camp, the inmates said two organisations visited the camp in that regard.
“Last week, the people from Action Against Hunger came to profile our people but we’ve not heard from them yet. And some days ago, a group of officials from a Micro-Finance bank also came to do some work here with a promise of coming to give palliative treatment. But we are still yet to receive any food support yet,” Bashir lamented.
The UN Secretary-General had said at a press conference that though his visit to Borno was a symbol of the global community’s commitment to end terrorism and provide solutions and support to the victims of terrorism, he still met a happy IDP community in Gubio camp who were all willing to support the government in facilitating their return home.
“The people I met today in the IDP camp want to go back home in safety and dignity. On the faces of the thousands of people I met there [Gubio Camp] I saw smiles, I saw enthusiasm, and I saw hope. This is what we must all invest for the future.”
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