The United States government has said nine million people are directly affected by ongoing Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East.
Also, the Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, has described terrorists as agents of Satan.
According to the US’ Office of Assistance for Africa Bureau of Population Director, Margaret McKelvey, at least two million of those affected by the terrorist group’s activities are in Nigeria.
McKelvey said, “I do want to call your attention to and highlight in particular, the situation of Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin countries. This has been called one of the most under-reported crises in the world today. We are talking about nine million people actually directly affected by Boko Haram and its depredations across the four countries,” she said during a telephonic conference in Washington.
McKelvey told our correspondent that there were efforts to register people using biometrics so as to provide protection for refugees and internally displaced persons.
“So, being registered, having a recognised identity, having documentation can be very important in proving who you are and the fact that you exist. We like to see birth registrations for refugee children for example. On the total number of refugees that are being counted today in the Lake Chad Basin area would be just under 155, 000. In addition, there are just over 77, 000 people who had been living in Nigeria but of Chadian, Nigerian and Cameroonian background who returned to their home countries. So, those people we call returnees.
“Now the really big numbers are the IDPs and most of those are in Nigeria itself; just over two million — maybe I shouldn’t say just over, approaching 2.1 million. There are also people who have been internally displaced in the other three countries by Boko Haram attacks. So, on the Cameroon side, we have close to 191,000; on the Chad side, close to 112,000 and on the Niger side, 167,000. So, hopefully that answers your questions about the numbers,” the US official said.
She also noted that the refugees, returnees and IDPs were in remote parts of the four countries leaving them vulnerable to further attacks by Boko Haram.
“Boko Haram has attacked IDP camps inside Nigeria. They have attacked villages, most recently in Niger, uprooting another 100,000 people, being secondarily uprooted if you will. So, having secured access to be able to bring in humanitarian supplies and to reach the people in need is clearly the number one challenge.”
Lalong, who also described corruption as a cankerworm, said for Nigeria to move forward, the country must be rid of tendencies that predisposed citizens to corrupt practices because it had become a bane of the country’s socio-economic development and peaceful co-existence.
Lalong spoke in Jos at the opening ceremony of the 7th Triennial Council of Ansar-Udeen Society of Nigeria held at the Treasures Inn Hotel in Jos, the state capital, on Saturday.
The governor said, “Our country needs to pull itself from the league of underdevelopment nations to a developed nation and it is apparent that corruption stagnates development, therefore all hands must be on deck to defeat this anti-progress and agent of retardation.”
Lalong, who was represented by the Commissioner of Environment and Minerals Development, Mr. Abdullahi Abbas, also lamented the activities of terrorists, who he said, were bent on destroying the very fabric of Nigeria’s political, economic and social existence.