By Faith Igbudu
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has drawn the attention of international humanitarian agencies to what he sees as annihilation of his people.
Ortom made the position known at the official handover ceremony of projects executed by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Ikyogen, Kwande Local Government, Benue state.
The governor who was represented by the Executive Secretary, State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Dr Emmanuel Shior said: “We want to use this opportunity to appeal to you because we know you are a solid UN agency working with us to support the persons of concern not only that, we hope you can assist in escalating this challenge and drawing the attention of the leaders. Indeed, Benue state government wants to draw the attention to the entire international community to what is going on.
“For us because of the continued killings, we feel that it is a form of genocide that is being carried out on our people. If you take a statistics of our people that are killed on a daily basis, you will agree with what I am sharing with you.
“My government is inundated with a plethora of both humanitarian and development crises. The persons of concern have been in the camps for over three years, so it is not easy for the state government.”
He further stated that the state appreciates the federal government for it’s trickle, support through National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), however, “Benue state government ask that more attention be given to the persons of concern who number over a 1.5 million, as the burden has become weighty for the state to bear. A situation that is growing bigger due to incessant killings,” he added.
While expressing immense appreciation to the organization for it’s humanitarian gestures to the state urged them not to rest on the oars as the situation has still persist.
“I thank all the partners, particularly UNHCR who are working with us on the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Refugees situation in the state for providing the support they have provided. The numerous projects, starting from when we first received the refugees in Abande, Agbaste, Tyokase and environs, It has a been wonderful journey so far.
“UNHCR, you have been outstanding for your projects. Physical projects, cash and every form of support. The access road, water and so many things that you have done, I heartily appreciate you,” he added.
He also requested for prayers from the people of the state to be able to surmount the humanitarian and security situation in the state.
Head of UNHCR, sub-office Ogoja, Tesfaye Bekele, in his address said the organization is delighted at the progress recorded in the area and promised continuous collaboration between the organization and the state government.
“Today marks a very special day for UNCHR Nigeria and the good people of Benue state, particularly Kwande LGA and Ikyogen community. UNHCR commends the Ikyogen community for hosting the displaced persons of concern fleeing persecution from the neighbouring county.
“The projects have been completed and are ready to use. However, permit to reiterate the role of the government and Ikyogen community in ensuring sustained functionality of the facilities and services. The beneficiaries should therefore, take bold steps to ensure the facilities are protected from vandals,” Bekele said.
Taking over the projects, Chairman, Kwande LGA, Joyce Chianson commended UNHCR for bringing comfort not only to the refugees but the host community. She assured that the facilities will be judiciously used and protected.
Some beneficiaries of the projects, Amea Jev of the host community and Aso Marcelline of the refugee settlement were full of thanks to the organization and promised to live peacefully pp with each other to attract more development to the area.
Projects handed over were, construction of classroom blocks at NKST Primary School, Ahundu and Gbaazov, St Francis Secondary School, construction of solar borehole, upgrading of a hand held borehole, grading of 4km road, construction of seven culverts, latrines, three self contain staff quarters and others for the benefit of the refugees and the host community.
Meanwhile, UNHCR has hinted that more of such projects are in the pipeline for the area.