IPCR, UNHCR Post-Insurgency Interventions in the North East

Prof. Oshita Oshita addressing IDPs at the Bakassi Camp.

The IPCR-UNHCR Advocacy Team with the General Manager of NTA Damaturu showing the global sign for peace

Nigeria has suffered much loss of human and material resources largely because of the Boko Haram insurrection in the north east sub region; the negative effect could span decades. Having succeeded in degrading the meaningless mugging of the insurgents, what is uppermost of the priorities of the federal government now is the post-insurgency action which may broadly be summed up into reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement of the areas destroyed and extant victims of the unfortunate attacks.

The post-insurgency issues are a big challenge for the Nigerian Government considering the huge amounts of money which may be required to dealing with the issues towards the recovery of good relations and subsequently attain stability for the re-bounce of full socio-economic activities.

On behalf of the federal government, the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), the government’s apex agency in matters of peace and conflict resolution and some other related security issues in Nigeria and Africa, supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has designed some intervention activities under the Community Peace-building and Coping Strategies Support (CPCS) project.

In order to design the project, IPCR/UNHCR both carried out investigations to unearth the humanitarian crises and other challenges inherit in post-insurgency situation. Some of these problems include mistrust and hostility among the people who were once parts of the affected communities, separation from or loss of family members, loss of materials, emotional and psychosocial imbalance, lack of community support as well as forced displacement, and the social, economic and cultural changes induced by the insurgency further compounded the feeling of protection risks. There is also the stigmatization of families of suspected Boko Haram members, and or rejection of repentant insurgents by their communities.

The objectives of the project include among others to advocate and create awareness for community based peace-builders towards responding to conflict in the affected LGAs in the North East; assess to reconciliation and restorative justice (RJR) measures that enhance peace-building; working with partners at the community-level, local authorities, and at the state-levels to support locally-driven peace-building activities; and increase in the inclusion of women in peace-building processes .Expected Impact at the end is to enhance human security of populations of concern that ensure proper management conflict, peaceful access to and reintegration in communities affected by conflict; resilience levels towards coping with post-conflict situations; establishment of localized Community Early Warning and Early Response (EWER) Mechanisms; networks of Community Peace Volunteers (CPVs) in local communities to reduce conflict in targeted communities.

The first phase of the project which is the high-level advocacy/sensitization visits to Borno and Yobe States has just been concluded. The team led by the Director General of IPCR, Professor Oshita O. Oshita included keys officials of the UNHCR, Mr. Cezar Tchilombo, and Head of the North East office and the Protection Officer, Ms. Hilda Ochuonyo during the visits in Maiduguri. In Damaturu, the UNHCR Field Officer, Mr. Gabriel Idoko joined the advocacy team.

In Maiduguri, the team visited the Shehu of Borno, Abba kyari Shehu Umar Gabai, Ministries of Information, Justice, Women Affairs, Local Government, the police, Department of State Security, State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), media houses, and the Bakkassi IDP Camp. In Damaturu, the team went to similar organizations and also had meeting with religious leaders, and then the IDP Camp in Pompomari. 

In each of the visits, the IPCR and UNHCR officials harped on the importance of peace, tolerance, the need to forgive so that the healing process may become effective. According to them, the project will involve mediation capacity building for easy mitigation of conflicts, resilience of the affected communities to go on with life with positive mind, stabilization of the emotions and psychosocial imbalance of victims of the insurgency. At the end of the project individuals and groups would after due training be inaugurated as Community Peace Volunteers (CPVs). In the word of Prof. Oshita, “The project is designed as a continuation of the pilot project in Adamawa and Taraba states. The goal of the project is to train more Community Peace Volunteers (CPVs) from Borno and Yobe states. However, from the lessons learned from the pilot project, in order to devise the best peace-building approach for the population of concern, a needs assessment will be conducted. The assessment will also be used to identify key stakeholders in the displaced, returnee and host community population that can help validate the needs assessment. Volunteers will be identified from the population of concern during the assessment and picked for training as CPVs. Furthermore review of the strengths and weaknesses of the CPVs in Adamawa and Taraba will be used to ensure the project is sustainable”. 

The Shehu of Borno and the other stakeholders who were visited both in Maiduguri and Damaturu expressed happiness over the IPCR /UNHCR partnership. They said the involvement of IPCR as an agency of the federal government has given more hope and further demonstrate the commitment of the federal government towards restoring durable peace and stability in the region while pledging their unflinching support for the success of the project.

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