How Hunger Pushes Young IDPs Into Prostitution, Forced-labour, Criminality

How Hunger Pushes Young IDPs Into Prostitution, Forced-labour, Criminality


AljazirahNigeria correspondents in this report visited few IDPs camps across the nation to ascertain the situation in terms of social welfare and economic cum safety well-being of the IDPs.

No thanks to inadequate relief interventions and worsening economic conditions, young internally displaced persons, (IDPs) in Nigeria’s North-east, North-central are risking their lives, gnashing their teethes  to survive and carry the burden of the older family IDPs members.

At the Bakassi IDPs Camp in Maiduguri, our reporter spoke with Musa Ibrahim who was sitting in front of the IDPs camp with evidence of despair and withering hope  written all over his face. According to him, for hours, he had been waiting for a man who promised to pick him up for a manual labour on his farm that as a young man that he chose to farm than to go for theft or break and enter (burglary).

Musa said, that now that the rain has come, there farms located at safe zones, some of willing are hired by farm owners but we don’t see it daily as many who not in the IDPs are also scrambling for the same labour.  Musa who is 13 years old narrated how he has been moving from one camp to the other since he was 9 years old. He further said that atrocities are going-on daily in the camps as boys and able bodied men engage in small stealing to survive and the girls and women (mothers) sell their bodies for exchange of food. That one here is not a problem. Almost every woman does it to put food in her pot else she won’t have to feed the kids. But few reserved women are being cajoled by these other women who thrive in prostitution as normal thing to survive. My mother vowed not to prostitute for fear of Allah and getting infections. Musa further revealed that around 1:AM, NGO’s workers and security men began moving food to some ‘marked’ tenths where the ladies that paid their dues resides. By morning, there would enough food to serve the household for like two days. Also, some eagle-eyed boys would be targeting the foods and steal it from them thereby causing serious quarrels.

Musa also said that he got as low as 500 naira to 1000 naira depending the master who hired him but his concern was that it doesn’t come often. “With that, I feed myself for the day and save a hundred naira or two for any eventualities,” he said as his eyes continued to scan every vehicle that drove past the Bakassi Camp, which is located along the Maiduguri-Damboa highway.

After a short chat, it was obvious that the young Musa had lost his means of earning for the day. His would-be employer did not show up. He shook his head in awe of lost hope, reluctantly rose, picked a plastic bag that contained his hoes and work wear, then turned with a sad smile on his face, “God has not granted me today’s work, but He shall provide a better opportunity next time”.

Sadly, the number of trailers that convey food to their camp has reduced drastically that managers of IDPs find it very difficult to share the food because the quantity was very minute, a situation that further pushed criminality for survival. He said, “My regrets is been born in Borno State. I only did primary school 3 before we ran away when Boko Haram attacked our community and I don’t have hope of acquiring education like Governor Zulum, who we were told got the highest education.

You would recall that Governor Babagana  Zulum had confirmed this in a BBC Hausa interview where he said; “Government and the United Nation systems have been overwhelmed by the increasing number of those in need of life-saving support” . This, he explains, is the reason he is pushing for the return of the IDPs to their liberated communities.

 Also, our reporter visited the IDPs Camp located around Galadima area of the FCT where healthy living has become an illusion. Speaking with  Hayatu who identifies herself as mother of six children and a voluntary teacher in the IDPs camp. Trying to know how they are faring in terms of getting food and access to portable water. The soft-spoken lady in her forties regretted running away from Boko  Haram because living in this camp is close to hellfire. Before this year, we used to get visitors on a sympathy visit and they would come with clothes, food items and money to encourage us not to lose hope but this time around, you hardly see any of such kind genuine gestures. As what many ladies had resort to survive is prostitution. According to Hayatu, once, it is about 8: PM, men in flashy cars would come around the camp, negotiate with the girls and women and we can only see them the next day. For her, such practice is common and a new way of survival. Even boys who were riding ‘Keke NAPEP’ for survival were banned from plying certain routes thereby making business bad.  When queried if she is part of those prostituting, she retorted: We must all survive”.

For Hayatu, Musa and many other IDPs, living in the displaced camps is regrettable because they have lost time and years living in a squalor at the pity and mercy of others who some times took advantage of their plights.

The various interventionist IDPs agencies, should up there game as hunger is very high in the IDPs thereby pushing young men and women to prostitution, theft and force labour.

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