The IDPs: Lasting Ways To Re-Build Their Lives With Full Re- Integration In Nigeria

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In the history of Nigeria, a major unlimited crisis or national outbreak that will face us for a very long time is the issue of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) which is due to nature, tribal, religious induced conflicts and Boko Haram devastation especially.

Certainly, donating all sorts of relief materials to these involuntary migrants within their own country is a gesture that is needed more than ever at this time.

But with no adequate statistics on the numbersand whereabouts of the IDPs, fullysatisfying their basic needs remain a growing challenge. So identifying these persons in terms of their numbers and locations and then coordinating their care is a task that should continue aggressively.

Per the Government’s directives, forfeited materials and relief items in various Customs warehouses are being distributed to located IDPs and this is a good move but these items’ medical fitness and usage, must constantly be checked on. Especially, when they include food, clothing and other living items.

Any meaningful committee on matters relating to the IDPs must go beyond the typical or old style drawing process as in getting persons from various government agencies like the Police, Customs Service, Immigration Service and NGOs. There is a present day need to include or continue to engage clinicians and researchers from Universities, teaching and specialist centers as these psychosocial, psychiatric, psychological, social work, educational, childcare, medical, nutritional, vocational, physical planning and other related expertise know much more about the short and long terms needs of the IDPs.

A much more lasting way to rehabilitate and reintegrate the IDPs especially those in the northeast and other related areas of Nigeria, is first to see their matter as a human rights challenge, and we don’t need any international body or expert to remind us of this problem.

As the nation slowly recovers from the conflicts and doings of the insurgency and others, it is important to ensure that rehabilitation and reintegration measures for the IDPs are grounded in mental and medical clearance, as a fit body and mind will be needed for full rehabilitation and reintegration.

If we are to make a real difference in the lives of our displaced children, women and men, the Government which include the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary should urgently provide us with a legal and non-sentimental environment where rules and policies regarding IDPs are fully enforced followed by real results in their lives.

This is not the time to set up hurried plans and programs which will only result in short term benefits for the victims, and sudden praise for the leaders or agencies involved in these matters.

What is needed now isusing the full strengths of everyone and systems to find and locate all the IDPs, fully engage them in re-integrative and rehabilitative practices marked with meeting their bodily, physical, psychological, psychosocial support, and security needs.

In the area of health concerns, a good number of the women and girls including the males could gain from traumatic related help as some of them could be suffering from sexual abuse, drug inflicted and other abuses as well as issues of stigma, isolation and rejection.

We must put to use our Social Science alumnae, Psychology andSocial Work graduates in particular, and train them in culturally sensitive ways to engage in home based services or work across IDPs camps and communities, where they will aid and empower the IDPs with the necessary social and living skills as they re-build their lives and re-integrate into old or new communities and the society.

John EgbeazienOshodi, an Associate Professor of Forensic/Clinical Psychology, Nasarawa State University writes from Abuja, Nigeria. [email protected]

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Articles by John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D.