Oundudu, an 11-year-old girl should have seen it all, that evening when herdsmen attacked her village in Guma local government area of Benue state. It was around 6pm when they started hearing the sound of gunshots. Roads were blocked, and it was a difficult task for the girl and her family to find a way out.
“They were killing everything they see, even small children,” Oundudu says. “They tried to pursue us and we ran to Gindi.”
In the middle of the night, her father, a commercial motorcycle rider, brought them out from where they had hidden all day, and from there, they made a run for their lives.
Since they fled their village, Oundudu and many of her peers who now live as displaced persons in safer communities have not had access to education, and food.
SCHOOLS ARE CLOSED
Inyom, a head teacher who has been displaced from his village in Kambe, is worried about the children who are now out of school because of the incessant attacks by herdsmen across communities in Benue and Nasarawa states.
The Central Primary School in Kambe has been under lock, and children meant to be in school are scattered across displaced persons’ camps, with their education now on hold.
“All the schools are closed,” Inyom says, with a voice overwhelmed with sadness.
On the first day of the year 2018, gunmen suspected to be herdsmen had invaded villages in Guma and Logo local government areas of Benue state, and more than 70 people, including children, were killed.
“We all had to run,” Inyom whose village — being close to those villages attacked — is an easy target for the herdsmen, says.
A woman weeping during the mass burial organised for 73 victims of herdsmen attacks
“And since we came here, there has been no educational provision for the children. They can’t go to school again because we are now homeless people.”
NO HOPE FOR BETTER DAYS
The head teacher says the government knows they are now camped at the LGEA primary school in Agasha, Guma local government area, but no one has come to assure them of better days, especially the children.
“In other parts, children have resumed school but our own children can’t go back to school now, we can’t go back to the village. A day before yesterday, we were asked to move to Gende, where other displaced people are camped, but we don’t have anything to move ourselves and that is why we remained here.”
The issue is the same with children in the displaced camps in Daudu, Guma local government area.
At the St Francis LGEA primary school in Daudu where hundreds of displaced persons are camped, children who should be in school are loitering around the school field.
Most of the displaced persons are from Babai and have been camped in the school for over two weeks.
These coffins were captured moments before they were lowered
“After the January 1 killings, the governor asked that we move here, but nothing was said concerning the education of the children,” Joel, one of the displaced persons says.
“All the schools in Babai have been closed because there is nobody living there now. And all the children are here in the camp.”
Joel is equally worried about the children whose classrooms they have turned into sleeping rooms.
“When we arrived in Daudu, those who have relatives in the town moved in with their people, and the rest of us were brought to this school, and because we are still here, the pupils of the school have been unable to resume for school activities.”
For most of the women, however, getting food to eat should be a priority over the children’s education.
“Some of these children have not even eaten, talk less of going to school,” Joel’s wife says.
HUNGRY CHILDREN EVERYWHERE
Children waiting for food
The youngest of her children is strapped to her back, and the others watch their mother stoop to fan the fire woods. They all look pale and hungry, and they all can’t wait for the food to get cooked.
It has been two weeks that this displaced family found a new home inside the classrooms of the primary school in Agasha, Guma local government area of Benue state.
“The herdsmen sent us away from Awe, our village,” Sember, mother of five, recounts.
She had trekked many kilometres with her children before a truck stopped by and brought them to Agasha. Since they came, feeding has been an issue. Sember and many others who are farmers and had more than enough to eat in their storehouses were made to leave everything behind, and run to safety in Agasha.
One of the displaced women in Daudu
“We were harvesting guinea corn when these people came with cutlass and started destroying the guinea corn. Then, they opened fire, asking everybody to leave.”
She and others had narrowly escaped, are praying that their children don’t die of hunger. Many times, for the sake of her children, she had thought of going back to her village to get food from the storehouse but that would be a deadly risk. The herdsmen are believed to have occupied their villages and would have looted all they have in their storehouses.
Do you sell Products or offer Services?