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Banditry: Lack of mental health support worsens plight of Niger IDPs

Lack of mental health support after several years of traumatic experiences in the hands of bandits and insurgents has been reportedly worsening the plights of…

Lack of mental health support after several years of traumatic experiences in the hands of bandits and insurgents has been reportedly worsening the plights of victims in Niger State.

Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that many IDPs, especially those released after spending months in bandits’ dens had died of mental health disorders, arising from the post-abduction trauma.

Some Internally Displaced Persons and relations of some of the kidnapped victims told Daily Trust on Sunday that many Internally Displaced Persons have died from traumatic disorders in the last few years.

Also disrupting the mental health of the IDPs in the state is the persistent hunger and hardship, poor state of IDP camps and lack of access to drugs and healthcare services in the face of illnesses.

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While their homes have been deserted, the IDP camps provided by government are not also conducive for living due to poor facilities. IDPs told our correspondents that most of the classrooms used as camps were leaking. Lack of access to healthcare during sicknesses also worsened the mental disorder already suffered by the victims.

Experts said the victims require special mental health support, especially now that cost of living has also gone high in the country.

Safiya Dahiru, an IDP from Zazzaga, Munya LGA, told our correspondent that over 20 people from their camp had died from trauma and mental health disorder.

“Government should come to our aid. Politicians only remember that we exist during elections; after elections, we don’t see them again. We have appealed several times to government to station security operatives in our communities but they have refused. During the last election, we were taken to Mararaban-Dandaudu to cast votes for them but since then, we have not seen them again. We only see in the media that government has been distributing relief materials but they don’t get to us. If government can send security operatives to our communities, our farming and small businesses are more than government support and enough to sustain us without begging government for anything. Our men have become beggars. Many of them have been killed while many have died of trauma and mental health disorder. We have lost over 20 people due to trauma and our children are dying from illnesses because we couldn’t take them to hospital. Our leaders should fear God. Three days ago, we went back home; they came again around 12pm. We had run back to camp.”


Also speaking, Zainab Nasiru said “our men no longer access their farms for years now. We don’t have food and cloths until we beg. We are tired of roaming the town like mad people in search of food. We are tired of crying. Many of us have died of trauma and mental health challenges. We have lost over 10 people due to trauma in our camp. We can’t count the number of orphans in our camp now. We are crying; they should see our tears. Recently, six of our men who returned were killed. This happened less than a month ago.”

Fifty-five-year-old Luka Dogo, one of the few men in the camp, told Daily Trust on Sunday that many pregnant women and new babies had died in the camp due to complications and lack of access to healthcare services during child delivery, adding that many children had also died from malaria while they also lack access to immunization.

Dogo said there were two separate groups operating in Shiroro LGA, noting that “attacks on our communities have not reduced. Bandits and insurgents still live in our communities. There are Boko haram elements and a group of bandits led by one Dogo Gide. They operate separately but in the same area. But they are not far from each other. And each time they come out, they kill anybody they see and abduct some people and demand for ransom.”

He said the camp was not conducive, appealing to authorities for resettlement to enable them live a normal life.

The Coordinator, Justice, Peace and Development Commission (JPDC), Rev Fr Bahago Dauda Musa, said the victims were in need of mental health support, especially those released from captivity.


“My interactions with these IDPs have always been traumatic ones. That is why we have always solicited and advocated to the people of goodwill and the government to ensure that mental health support is provided to kidnapped victims in particular because they are mentally and emotionally affected. So, they are in need of mental health support. I call on the state government to organise a mental health support programme so that these victims would be brought together and professional counsellors and psychologists will attend to them. They should be evaluated so that their level of post abduction traumatic stress or disorder would be ascertain so we know how to help them.

“There was a woman who was kidnapped in Paikoro LGA. Bandits took her along with her one-year-old baby. On their way, the bandits felt the boy could become a sort of problem to them. They collected the baby and threw him in the bush. Before the mother could be released, the baby was already dead,” he said.

The State Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Ahmad Suleiman Yumu, recently that said 29, 774 farmers had been displaced in the state, which comprised of 7, 650 women, 3, 201 men and 11, 113 children and 108 people with special needs.

The commissioner said “lack of conducive IDP camps, lack of social amenities such as potable drinking water, medical facilities, toilet facilities, conducive learning environment amongst others are major challenges we are contending with.”

The commissioner appealed for a robust synergy and partnership with the federal government to restore sustained security, and rehabilitation/integration of the IDP’s back to their communities.

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Betta Edu, in her recent visit to IDP camps in the state, confirmed that with what she saw, the IDPs in the state needed quick interventions to live normal lives.

She said it was catastrophic to have over 400 schools closed and over 11,000 children out of school due to insecurity.

The Chairman of Shiroro LGA, Akilu Isyaku Kuta, appealed for donations from well-to-do individuals to enable them carter for the IDPs in the local government.

Kuta also confirmed that the groups operating in the state include members of the Boko Haram insurgency, saying that “If you look at the classrooms they sleep in, they are not conducive. Some of them are leaking. So, we beg for support.”


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