28 August 2016
The Senate will investigate the severe hunger crisis in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in the northeast, Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, has said.
This is contained in a statement signed by Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu, Special Adviser to the Senate President on Media and Publicity and made available to newsmen on Saturday in Abuja.
The statement said Saraki was reacting to protests by hundreds of women from IDP camps in Borno on Thursday, which led to the barricade of the Maiduguri-Kano/Jos Road.
It described the development as `desperate’ and reiterated Saraki’s call for better coordination amongst government and international aid agencies.
It emphasised the need for Nigeria to quickly operationalise a more effective and efficient humanitarian response infrastructure to address the situation.
“It is important that we all focus on eliminating the coordination, access and food supply issues hindering us from successfully feeding the millions of IDPs.
“This is particularly important for the many children who are dying daily from starvation.
“It should break every Nigerians’ heart to know that our own women and children are enduring such horrendous hardships,’’ the statement quoted Saraki as saying.
Saraki called on the Nigeria Police, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other law enforcement agencies to quickly move to investigate the diversion of food deliveries.
He said that government officials and contractors should be held to account for the mysterious disappearance of truckloads of provisions intended for the IDP camps.
“Anyone that is found to be diverting the food aid deliveries should be investigated and brought to book if investigations prove their participation in these vicious schemes.
“Profiting from a complex humanitarian crisis is unacceptable.
“The people of the northeast have suffered enough indignities in the past four years from the marauding Boko Haram terrorists and the stealing of food meant for starving children, only adds insult to injury,’’ it stated.
The statement also quoted Saraki as saying that he had recently called for an international summit on the northeast, similar to the one held in London for Syria which raised about 10 million dollars.
It also stated that Saraki planned to move a motion on the situation in the northeast when the Senate reconvenes from recess in September.
According to the statement, the motion will call for the establishment of a Senate ad-hoc committee on northeast and a public hearing to review Nigeria’s humanitarian policies and hear testimonies from IDPs.
“The situation in the northeast has been under-reported and under-resourced for too many years.
“In terms of scale and complexity, the situation in the northeast is direr than that in South Sudan.
“Yet, apparently the crisis appears not to be star-studded enough to attract greater international attention and support,’’ the statement said.