By Most Rev. Dr. Stephen Dami Mamza (Catholic Bishop of Yola Diocese)
“I was a stranger and you invited me in …” (Mat. 25:35b)
Greetings and special welcome to His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri (Executive Governor Adamawa State) and your entourage, Our Special Guests of honour Most Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah (Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese) and Most Rev. Bulus Yohanna Bishop of Kontagora Diocese, His Royal Highness, the Lamido of Adamawa Dr. Muhammadu Barkindo Mustapha, The District head of Girie, The Chairman Girie Local Government Hon. Judah Daddo. My Friend and Colleague, the Chairman of Muslim Council, Alhaji Gambo Jika, All INGOs present specially led by UN-OCHA, Heads of Security Agencies, Gentlemen of the Press, Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is my singular honour and privilege to host you here in Sangere-Marghi Former IDPs’ Resettlement Estate. This project is a tall dream come true since the Catholic Diocese of Yola first opened its doors to host IDPs since Sunday 15th September 2014 after the fall of some Local Governments in Northern Adamawa following the attacks of Boko Haram on local villagers. At the height of the displacement in October 2014 when Mubi town and environs came under Boko Haram occupation, thousands fled into Yola and approached us for food and shelter. It was at this time that St. Theresa’s IDPs Camp housed 4,700 persons.
Our efforts to take care of the IDPs for the past 7 years will not have been possible without the assistance we received from our major partner Missio Aachen (Germany) and support from His Holiness Pope Francis. We also had support from the following organizations: Misereor in (Germany), Caritas, ICRC, OXFAM, CISCOPE, IRC, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, St. Vincent de Paul Society (Lekki Deanery Archdiocese of Lagos), Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul (Port-Harcourt), Sisters of Mercy (Republic of Ireland), Order of St. Augustine (Irish Province), Catholic Archdiocese of Jos, De Zeit Newspaper (Germany), DRC, API, UNHCR, UNICEF, UN-OCHA etc.
We thank these groups and individuals for the combined efforts they have contributed for the care of the IDPs.
May I also use this opportunity to thank the government of Adamawa State under the able leadership of His Excellency, Rt. Hon Ahmadu Unaru Fintiri, the ATM Governor and the people’s Governor for allocating this land on which this project is sited. I also want to thank the Governor for approving the provision of electricity not only to the housing estate but also to the whole community here in Sangere Margi. Your Excellency, thank you for your humanitarian spirit. May God continue to bless you as you offer your selfless service to the people of Adamawa State.
Similarly, I also wish to thank the District head of Girie and the Chairman of Girie Local Government for their kind hospitality to this new community.
May I here appeal to humanitarian actors present that these former IDPs need to receive strong reintegration and rehabilitation support to build their livelihoods and contribute to long-term economic and political development. With proper support, displaced persons can serve as critical and essential human resources toward the rebuilding of the host communities where they resettle. Resettlement can represent a visible end to violent conflict, legitimize the new political order, and restore normal life for the conflict-affected population.
Upon arrival at their new destination, those who are resettling here in Sangere-Marhi will need reintegration and rehabilitation support to promote long-term economic and social development. A major gap exists in transitioning seamlessly from the resettlement process to sustainable development activities. The sustainable development activities are vital to ensure that people who resettle are not abandoned but are given the support needed to rebuild their lives over the long term in a serene and secure environment, which is highly needed in the country today.
We appeal to government and humanitarian actors that displaced persons need to be given opportunities to be productive and self-reliant, as against being passive recipients of aid, which results in dependency syndrome as earlier highlighted. Government should treat displaced populations as contributors to local development by giving them access to socioeconomic activity.
This will involve gradually integrating education by strengthening the Mission Primary School we have constructed here, health clinic provided here by UNICEF in collaboration with the Adamawa State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, agriculture, and livelihood-promoting activities that link up with longer-term development programs
Resettled population should be assured access to essential services. In addition to the shelter, the School and a Chapel, which our partnership with Missio Aachen has provided, The Catholic Diocese of Yola from her local resources without any support from anywhere constructed the Mosque for some of our Muslim former IDPs. We have provided water through the support of Misereor Germany that provided 5 Boreholes and Engineer Felix of Field Drill Company provided one additional borehole; food had been stable but we appeal to NEMA and SEMA for continuous support until stability is achieved; sanitation, and health services (PHCDA), infrastructure and education should be readily available in the local community in order to sustain its population at the most basic level and serve as a platform for further reconstruction and development. We continue to advocate for this population to have access to livelihoods, which will enable them to rebuild their lives and give them a sense of ownership in the reconstruction of their new resettlement here in Sangere-Marghi.
The COVID-19 pandemic has deepened humanitarian needs and complicated the response system. Our economy has nose-dived from the fall in global oil prices and from restriction measures to help curtail the spread of the virus, which has impacted negatively on the displaced population. Livelihoods have been affected and the purchasing power of low income earners has worsened and increased their vulnerability by ushering in negative coping strategies. May I appeal to all of us gathered here to be moved by the milk of human kindness to help alleviate the sufferings of these our brothers and sisters in need.
We thank all those who have contributed in one way or the other to the realization of this project. May God Almighty reward you abundantly. Once more thank you all for honoring our invitation and may the good Lord take you all back safely to your various destinationsFollow us