By Amos Aar
BENUE State Government through the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) on Thursday distributed food and non-food items to the Internally Displayed Persons (IDPs) across the various camps in the state for the first time since Rev. Fr Hyacinth Alia became governor of the state.
Flagging off the distribution of the materials, Governor Alia restated the commitment of his administration to return the IDPs to their ancestral homes.
The governor who had earlier visited some of the IDP camps on Thursday when he led the United Nations (UN) delegation to some of the camps in the state described their condition as “deplorable”.
He said his administration was trying to “reset the entire state to be a functional government element of progression and development”.
The governor stated that his administration took over SEMA from his predecessor with tall profile of activities that was only a mirage and was never reflected by application to those who were supposed to be touched.
The governor who said he was amazed at the huge number of the IDPs who are suffering from hardship conditions caused by farmers/herders crisis in the state also charged SEMA to respond not just to emergency matters but to ensure that all the IDPs are given good care and attention in equity and justice.
He directed that even the camps that were before now unofficial should be considered official and must be reached to cushion the effect of the hardship on the IDPs.
Governor Alia announced that he discovered over fourteen thousand (14,000) people in one of the camps which was earlier tagged unofficial by the last administration, emphasizing that it was wrong to leave them unattended to and charged SEMA to ensure that the items meant for the suffering IDPs were not diverted.
He however said that Benue remains a peaceful place and government cannot fold its arms and allow few selfish individuals to destroy the state.
While thanking donors for their various supports to the IDP camps, the governor also assured them that their contributions would be judiciously applied and called on the well to do individuals and organizations to support the government to get the IDPs back to their ancestral homes.
He charged people of the state to remain vigilant, be their brother’s keeper and report suspicious activity to the security agencies for proper action and warned them to remain peaceful and never take laws into their hands.
Earlier, Acting Executive Secretary of SEMA, James Iorpuu, said the distribution of food items would cover the nine (9) official camps and the five (5) unofficial camps made official today, June 27, 2023 by the Governor.
Iorpuu informed the governor that soon after he assumed office, he took a tour of all the IDP camps in the state and discovered that their situation was deplorable and that other camps were declared official and others unofficial amongst other challenges of food, water and shelter.
He said that he has quickly restructured the agency into various departments of administration, planning, research and statistics, relief and rehabilitation as well as welfare for effective management.
The SEMA Executive Secretary added that to achieve effective coordination, accurate situation awareness and comprehensive visibility of operational resources as well as enhancing information sharing in disaster response must be created, saying already he has also launched a website for SEMA while 88 Staff were recruited and posted to all camps in the state. Items distributed include six thousand bags of rice, seven thousand bags of beans, eight thousand cartons of noodles, palm oil, garri, maggi, salt, groundnuts oil and sugar.