Refugees need resettlement not palliatives – Sen. Shettima

By Haruna Salami

The Senator representing Borno central, Kashim Shettima, has called the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, to work hard in order to resettle the affected people instead of giving them palliatives.

The former Borno governor, gave the advice on Tuesday when the Senate Committee on Special Duties hosted officials of the Commission.

“The refugees need to be resettled. They don’t have homes. They need to have shelter not only palliatives,” he said.

Responding, the Federal Commissioner, Basheer Mohammed said the Commission was thinking along that line, but regretted that paucity of funds was hindering the realisation of the plan.

According to him, there are over two million IDPs in recognised camps in Nigeria, apart from displaced persons living in host communities.

“Our target is to resettle them so that they can continue their normal life in resettlement cities”. 

The resettlement cities, according to the Federal Commissioner, have been designed to have two and three bedroom flats with necessary facilities like market, school, health clinic, etc accommodating about 3,000 each.

He told the Committee that already, the Commission had requested for land from various state governors, adding that some had given approval and the Commission was only waiting for money to start work on the resettlement cities.

According to Mohammed, he has come to realise that heart desire of all the refugees and displaced persons is to be resettled.

He gave an example of what happened in Borno state a few weeks ago while they were distributing food, when a Kanuri man refused the ration asking to be resettled.

On the issue of repatriating Nigerian refugees in Cameroun, which the chairman of the committee raised, the Commissioner said only 160 out of the 2,000 were successfully repatriated, saying “you can’t bring people from refugee camp to another refugee camp”.