By Ben Agande Abuja
—Over 14 million Nigerians are directly affected by humanitarian crises in the North-east region of the country, two international humanitarian groups have reported.
The 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative from the United States and the Stefanus Foundation, based in Nigeria, gave the figure on Monday in Abuja. Addressing journalists during a programme organised to highlight the challenges of terror victims in the country, Mark Lipdo, Executive Director of the Stefanus Foundation, said a research conducted by the groups revealed the figure. “14.8 million Nigerians from Northeast are directly impacted by the crisis. Officially, there are 2.2 million Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs. “Unofficially, there are five to seven million IDPs. Those in need of special assistance are 2.5 million, comprising children under the age of five, pregnant women and nursing mothers,” he said. Mr. Lipdo said the menace of terrorism has had a wide range of casualties, which he listed to include 611 teachers who died as a result of terrorism in the north east; 19,000 teachers displaced, 1,500 schools closed down, and 950,000 children denied the opportunity of accessing education. Others include 13,000 churches abandoned, closed down or destroyed, 2000 children abducted and 10,000 boys forced to join Boko Haram. “Global Terrorism index shows that Boko Haram is the world’s most lethal terrorist group, followed by ISIS, while Al-Qaeda ranks third and the Fulani militants mostly in the middle belt rank 4th,” Mr. Lipdo said. Vice President of the 21st Wilberforce Initiative, Elijah Brown, added that in December 2015, the number of IDPs scattered around Nigeria alone were more than 2 million. “As of December 2015, there were 2,152,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nigeria – the third highest figure in Africa and the seventh in the world,” he said. Mr. Brown said the activities of Fulani herdsmen were having a terrible effect on the middle belt and called for immediate action against the menace. “Without intervention, the crisis in the Middle Belt will continue to escalate. This could affect other countries in West African region like the Republic of Benin, Chad, Cameroon, Mali, and Niger,” said Mr. Brown Co-organisers of the program, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, pleaded with world leaders to respond to government’s call towards assisting Nigeria in addressing the issues of humanitarian crisis created by terrorist activities across the nation. CAN president, Samson Ayokunle, said various reports in the past had indicated that the rate of humanitarian crisis affecting Nigerians as a result of terror were more than those of similar situations in most parts of the world. “The situation is looked upon by international bodies as the biggest humanitarian disaster all over the world. “A disturbing fact about the problem is that it has not received substantial humanitarian response from the world’s most powerful nations as other disasters of relatively smaller degrees in other parts of the world. “I am therefore calling on the world’s powerful nations to come to the aid of Nigeria in seeing to the end of insurgency. “Come to the aid of many victims of insurgency within and outside internally displaced people’s camps.