By Salisu Sani-Idris/Lizzy Okoji
The Victims Support Fund (VSF), said it has placed no fewer than 1,000 children, who lost their parents to Boko Haram’s insurgency in the North-East, on its Foster Care Programme.
The Executive Director of VSF, Dr Sunday Ochoche, made the disclosure while fielding questions at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) interview platform: `NAN Forum’ on Sunday in Abuja.
Ochoche said the displacement of people by the Boko Haram insurgents had resulted into the death and separations of many children and their parents in the region.
He said that VSF realised that there are many unaccompanied children at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)’s camps in the North-East, in which the organisation could not identify their parents.
He said while at the IDPs camps it was very easy for VSF to look after the children but with the dismantling of camps and people heading back to their homes, it became difficult to keep them.
The executive director said that in view of this development, VSF set up Foster Care Programme in order to provide health, education and other essentials for the children.
He said that under the FCP, VSF was working closely with community leaders, elected political leaders and religious leaders to identify responsible families and place the children under their care.
‘‘For every child we have placed in every family we are paying them N14, 000 for each child every month.
‘‘The money is for the upkeep of these children so that their guardians will ensure that these children go to school, feed well and their healthcare is taken care of,” Ochoche said.
The director said that as part of efforts to ensure effective service to the children, VSF has set up Child Protection Committees in every community, where those children are accommodated.
He explained that the committees on the average have about 15 persons, including respected elders in the areas, adding that VSF had also employed social workers in all the communities.
Ochoche said that the social workers are engaged to go from house-to-house to ensure that the children are well looked after and to report any challenges about their conditions for immediate action.
He further said that the child protection committee was responsible for ensuring that the orphans get the best treatment that VSF could offer them.
‘‘These are the key areas that we have focused on. Like I said the needs and the issues are enormous and if you want to begin to run everything it will be difficult to measure impact.
‘‘We have 1,000 children on the Foster Care Programme and we will increase it as time goes by because we started the programme toward the end of 2016.
‘‘There is no one agency alone by itself that can handle the needs of IDPs, not even the Federal Government with all its might can address the issues.
‘‘That is why we emphasised on partnership, collaboration and all that to tackle the problem.
‘‘We need the support of the international community, we need private sector to come on board, we need local and state governments, and we also need individuals’ support,’’ he said.