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NIGERIA: Thousands still homeless in Delta

WARRI, 15 January 2010 (IRIN) - Some 8,000 Delta State residents remain homeless eight months after government forces stormed militants with the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).

Most of the displaced are residents of Oporosa and Okerenkoko villages. Their homes destroyed, they are living with friends and family in neighbouring villages with several families to a hut, Nigeria Red Cross representative in Delta State, Eghworo Ovocity, told IRIN.

Alfred Bubor, a chief in Okerenkoko, told IRIN he lost two homes in the government incursion. “Now I have nowhere to sleep. Tell me how I can go back.” Many residents cannot afford to rebuild their houses, Ovocity told IRIN.

Paul Kirifede, displaced from Oporosa, said his family is still living in a tent.

In July 2009 local authorities promised to rebuild houses in Okerenkoko; they set up rebuilding and resettling committees and razed the village to create space for new foundations, the governor, Emmanuel Udughan, told IRIN.

But since then nothing has happened, according to Bubor. “The bulldozers left the village and it is like a ghost town…not a single foundation has been laid.”

Udughan said the contractors would soon return to finish the project. “The villagers should have patience.”

Another Okerenkoko chief, Clery Ibojoh, told IRIN many villagers would not return even if their houses were rebuilt, for fear of getting caught in the crossfire of another military attack on MEND, or a MEND attack on oil installations. Ibojoh said many people fear resuming their fishing – the principal livelihood in the region.

Nigeria military Joint Task Force spokesperson Lt Col Timothy Antiga told IRIN: “The military has assured the villagers of their safety….The people can go about their legitimate business without fear of anything as the military is there to provide security for them.”


Theme(s): (IRIN) Aid Policy, (IRIN) Children, (IRIN) Governance, (IRIN) Refugees/IDPs


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This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States.
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