A CATHOLIC bishop responsible for the area worst affected by Boko Haram has described the desperate needs of those who have fled the terrorist group – hitting out at the government for its failure to protect citizens.
Responding to an urgent request from Bishop Oliver Doeme of Maiduguri in north-east Nigeria, Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need has just approved aid for refugees who fled attacks by the Islamist terrorists in northern Nigeria.
Following Boko Haram’s attacks on towns and villages in the northeast, thousands of Internal Displaced People are living in mountain caves or in the forest.
Bishop Doeme stressed the urgency of the situation.
“People are dying every day and in most cases with no one to bury them decently, they are left to rot. Their homes and properties looted. They have become slaves and prisoners in their fatherland,” he said.
“Here is a government that cannot safeguard the lives of its citizens and indeed life has become so cheap that it can be wasted any moment.”
Bishop Doeme described reports of the Nigerian Army fleeing, and asking civilians to do the same, when faced with Boko Haram troops.
“We used to think that salt is the cheapest commodity in the market, well, life is cheaper now especially in the Northeastern part of Nigeria,” he said.
Bishop Doeme hit out at the government for failing to provide the IDPs with these basics.
“Given the political situation in the country, the funds meant for the victims of terrorism very seldom reach the actual people on the ground,” he said.
“The Church has been making efforts to offer as much help as possible. The diocese of Maiduguri has given some relief materials to over 1500 IDPs and it has joined hands with the Yola diocese to assist those who have taken refuge there.”
“In the spirit of ecumenism, we have even assisted refugees in Maiduguri who are mostly Christians from other church denominations.
“We are in dire need of external assistance to help alleviate the difficult situation of the refugees, especially of the children who, out of school and vulnerable to diseases, face an uncertain future.”