Humanitarian Crisis Deepens in Benue as IDPs Suffer Amid Herdsmen Attacks

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in Benue State are currently overwhelmed as marauding killer herdsmen continue their attacks on farming communities in the region.

During a recent visit to some of the camps, our correspondent witnessed the dire humanitarian situation faced by the IDPs, as they expressed their anguish, revealing that they were on the brink of starvation.

Over the past few days, numerous communities in Benue have fallen victim to the killer herdsmen, resulting in the displacement of thousands from their ancestral homes.

The latest victims were residents of Wandor and Mbaikyor communities in the Mbalom Council Ward of Gwer East Local Government Area. The attackers set fire to over 50 houses, huts, farmlands, and food storage facilities across 11 settlements, leaving a retired army officer and 16 others dead.

Prior to this incident, communities in Apa, Kwande, and Guma Local Government Areas of Benue State were also targeted in a series of attacks, resulting in numerous casualties and injuries.

The armed herdsmen, who have been invading Benue communities with large herds of cattle since the onset of the dry season, carried out relentless assaults on Ubele, Ochumekwu, Adija, Kano, and Ijaha in Apa Local Government Area.

Confirming the attacks, Mr. Eche Akpoko, the National Chairman of Apa Development Association, expressed deep concern over the continuous onslaught and killings in Apa by the marauders, highlighting that the attacks occurred over a three-day period.

In addition to Apa, suspected armed herdsmen launched multiple attacks on various communities in Agatu and Otukpo Local Government Areas, resulting in numerous fatalities, injuries, and widespread displacement.

One affected community, Iwili in the Entekpa Ward of Otukpo Local Government Area, was targeted by gunmen dressed in military uniforms who launched surprise attacks from trees, catching residents off guard.

The Adoka traditional ruler, Och’Adoka Alegwu Samuel Onuh, condemned the renewed attacks on the district, emphasizing that the Adoka people had previously maintained peaceful relations with Fulani herders.

The Chairman of Otukpo Local Government Area, Alfred Omakwu, confirmed the devastating incidents and reported the recovery of seven bodies, with ongoing efforts to locate additional victims. Military personnel have been deployed to aid in the search and offer support to the affected communities.

Responding to concerns about the alleged neglect of these communities by the police, Catherine Anene, spokesperson for the Benue State Police Command, clarified that multiple police teams had been deployed to manage the situation and had even suffered casualties in their efforts to mitigate the conflict.

IDPs at the temporary camp in Wesley Central School, Adoka, expressed their grievances about being forced out of their ancestral homes during a time of economic hardship. They described their current situation as refugees in their own land, facing hunger, malnutrition, and the disruption of their children’s education.

The displaced persons called on the government and stakeholders to urgently address the farmers/herders conflict, allowing them to return to their communities and resume their normal activities for the well-being of their families.

Adventure Ngbede Ofoine, the Adoka IDPs manager and youth leader of Adoka-Ole Youth Council, highlighted the severe food, water, health, accommodation, and security challenges faced by the displaced population. He appealed to the government, stakeholders, and individuals to provide assistance and alleviate their suffering during this critical time.

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