By Bukar Bolori
Sports has been identified as important tool for keeping internally displaced persons (IDPs) engaged and healing them of trauma.
Speaking at the weekend during the closing ceremony of the inaugural sports festival organized by the African Missions Global for internally displaced persons camps in Maiduguri, Dr. Sesan Akinnawo, the Northeast coordinator of the organizers, asked government to employ the avenue of sports in occupying the minds and strength of the youths living in the camps.
He said the Borno State Government particularly should continue to engage IDPs living in the state in sports and other vocational activities that would help them forget their worries.
Akinnawo said it is imperative to keep the minds and bodies of IDPs, whose majority have been traumatized by their experiences from Boko Haram, occupied with sports.
He noted that this would go a long way in healing the wounds and keep them in proper shape.
He lamented that most of the IDPs have been traumatized by a decade long insurgency causing many to be displaced from their ancestoral homes, and their condition has not been made better since they spend the whole day doing nothing while in the camp.
He decried that this has not assisted them to heal from their traumatic experiences, urging governments to take sports to the camps.
He said African Missions Global saw that apart from making relief materials available for the IDPs, there was the need to preoccupy them with activities that we make them to be lively and forget their past in order for them to heal of trauma.
He said this will also mitigate against youth restiveness and other social vices amongst the IDPs.
The Coordinator said: “We must continue to have faith in the youths and that is why we engaged them and organized the Sports Festival.
He added that: “The IDPs needs to be cared for as they are worst hit by insurgency. We in African Missions Global would continue in this direction to ensure that the IDPs are given a sense of belonging.”
Akinnawo said: “I will urge the state government to continue to intensify efforts to take the IDPs back to their places of abode.”
He promised that the Sports Festival will continue to be organized by AMG annually, even as more camps in the state would be allowed to participate.
The competition was organized among eight camps in Maiduguri including Teacher’s Village, NYSC, CAN Centre, Dalori, Gubio, LCC Shuwari and Stadium.
Events competed for include football, volleyball, basketball, table tennis and athletics, among others.