UNHCR raises concerns over worsening humanitarian situation in Benue  

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Wednesday expressed deep concern over the deteriorating humanitarian conditions and escalating displacement in Benue state.

The security situation in the region, UNHCR said, has led to a surge in humanitarian needs of thousands of vulnerable individuals.

Speaking during a workshop organised by UNHCR in collaboration with UNDP, IOM etc, the Associate Protection Officer/ Head of UNHCR, Makurdi Field Unit, Irene Donation Babu, noted that as of 2018, an inter-agency assessment conducted by the regional coordination identified five local government areas in Benue state affected by herders’ crises. He said the situation later worsened with 13 out of the 23 LGAs now impacted by the conflict.

She said though Benue is tagged, “Food Basket” of Nigeria, it was unfortunate that displaced persons are unable to access their farms or earn a living due to fear for their safety.

UNHCR added that malnourished children have continued to languish in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps, deprived of their basic rights to grow in a conducive environment and pregnant, malnourished women face uncertain prospects for safe delivery.

“The displaced population finds refuge in makeshift and overcrowded shelters such as Ichwa, NEPA Quarters, Ortese, and Baka IDP camps. Meanwhile, insurgents have seized ancestral homes, taking advantage of the savannah grasslands. While seasonal flooding historically drove population displacement, Benue has now become a flashpoint for farmer-herder clashes, resulting in thousands of lives lost,” she said.