United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed commitment to supporting measures to improve the suffering of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Nigeria’s restive northeast state of Borno.
Speaking with stakeholders on Tuesday in Maiduguri, the state capital of Borno and epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency, the UN chief showed concern for the plight of the people affected by the decade-long insurgency and appealed to the international community to support Borno State in addressing the humanitarian needs in northeast Nigeria.
Guterres, who had earlier visited Senegal and Niger as part of his “Ramadan solidarity visit” to Africa, arrived in Nigeria on Tuesday and visited some camps for IDPs and transit areas of repentant Boko Haram militants in Borno, Xinhua news agency reported.
He said if the support was given, Boko Haram would disappear even though they were weakened as support from the international community will help the Borno state government by giving hope for development and trust, where the people feel that their future can be trusted.
“I was very impressed in the IDPs’ camp to see that what the IDPs want is not food, blankets, but what they really want is the condition for them to be able to go back home in dignity and safety. And that requires (a) big investment,” he added.
The UN Chief said in a post on his official Twitter account on Wednesday that the people affected by terrorism he met in Borno “want above all to go back home in safety and dignity”.
“Borno is now a place of hope — showing that the way to fight terrorism effectively is to invest in livelihoods, reintegration and people’s futures,” he added.
Babagana Zulum, the Governor of Borno, on Tuesday briefed the UN chief on the situation in Borno, lauding the UN for its support to the state and urging for more.
Zulum said many of the displaced persons had stayed for several years in camps and were eager to return to their recovered homes, but the destroyed structures had yet to be reconstructed.
He urged for more UN support for the ongoing rehabilitation, reconstruction and resettlement of the IDPs.
Hajiya Zuwaira Gambo, the State Commissioner for Women’s Affairs and Social Development, said at the meeting that since 2016, the state has rehabilitated 7,039 women and children affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.
Since 2009, Boko Haram has been trying to establish an Islamist state in north-eastern Nigeria, extending its attacks to countries in the Lake Chad Basin, where the group has posed enormous security, humanitarian and governance challenges.