‘If We Must Wait for Total Peace Before Thinking of Returning, We May Never Have a Place Called Home’: Support Mechanisms for Displaced Victims of Herder-Farmers Conflict in Benue State, Nigeria

Published date01 October 2023
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1177/25166069231185986
AuthorVictor Onyilor Achem,Adeyinka Abideen Aderinto
Date01 October 2023
Subject MatterOriginal Articles
‘If We Must Wait for
Total Peace Before
Thinking of Returning,
We May Never Have
a Place Called Home’:
Support Mechanisms for
Displaced Victims of
Herder-Farmers Conflict in
Benue State, Nigeria
Victor Onyilor Achem1 and Adeyinka Abideen Aderinto1
Abstract
This research investigates the relationship between reintegration outcomes and
support systems for displaced populations, with a focus on agricultural commu-
nities and returnees in Benue state, Nigeria. The study examines the impact of
displacement experiences and return settings on reintegration, as well as the
subjective evaluations of individuals regarding their support systems and its influ-
ence on successful reintegration. Snowball and purposeful sampling methods were
employed to select 44 respondents from various IDP camps, and data was col-
lected through group discussions, in-depth interviews, and key informant inter-
views. Thematic analysis using NVIVO12plus software was conducted. The findings
reveal a complex relationship between reintegration decisions and experiences
with displacement support and return settings. In Benue state, displaced victims
have two primary support systems: government assistance in collaboration with
NGOs, and assistance from private organizations and individuals.
Keywords
Natural resource competition, displacement, support systems, herder-farmers
conflict, reintegration, restorative justice
Original Article
Journal of Victimology
and Victim Justice
6(2) 160–175, 2023
2023 National Law
University Delhi
Article reuse guidelines:
in.sagepub.com/journals-permissions-india
DOI: 10.1177/25166069231185986
journals.sagepub.com/home/vvj
1 Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria
Corresponding author:
Victor Onyilor Achem, Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria.
E-mail: victorachem@rocketmail.com
Achem and Aderinto 161
Introduction
Crisis conditions can endanger lives while weakening or destroying the social,
structural, governmental, cultural, economic, legal and security institutions neces-
sary for groups and cultures to coexist. As a crisis moves beyond its initial emer-
gency stage, it may also become clear that there have been deeper, more intricate
and protracted effects on the social equilibrium of the afflicted communities. This
may make the issue worse and thwart efforts to find lasting rehabilitation and
remedies. As a result of this realization, peace was gradually recognized as a
crucial element of the victims’ support and reintegration nexus. The number of
internally displaced people (IDPs) is rising internationally and has created a
significant human multidimensional challenge since it is crucial for concerns such
as establishing peace, global warming, sustainable development, change adoption
and catastrophe risk reduction.2 Despite being a worldwide issue, the situation of
IDPs in Nigeria is extremely concerning since it has been noted that Nigeria has
the third-highest number of IDPs after DRC and Ethiopia.3
Conflicts between pastoralists and farmers, cattle rustling, land disputes, mass
killings and other forms of conflict increased in the north-central, and north-west
areas in 2020. In 2020, there were 169,000 new displacements brought on by con-
flicts and violence.4 The state of Benue continued to be home to the biggest number
of IDPs, with 282,950, or 34%, of the overall IDP population.5 With these results,
we can see that the population has grown by about 30%, or 64,929 people, since the
previous count. Benue state accounted for 59% of the IDP population in camps and
other makeshift settlements in North-Central and North-West Nigeria.6 Having a
high number of IDPs in 20217 is a worrisome condition that requires urgent atten-
tion. The greatest number of IDPs in the north-central states of Nigeria may be
found in Benue state, which is currently ravaged by conflict and violence between
herders and farmers, necessitating an analysis of how the stakeholders, whatever be,
state and non-state actors, concerned, have coordinated the support, rehabilitation
and reintegration of IDPs. However, the importance of assisting persons who are
either displaced or returning home has also been demonstrated by research.8,9,10
2 A.A. Aderinto & V.O. Achem, A Concentric Approach to Understanding Herders-Farmers Clashes
in North-Central, Nigeria, 11(4) Int. J. Sociol. Anthropol. 37 (2019).
3 IDMC, Internal Displacement Index Report 2021 (2021). https://www.internal-displacement.org/
sites/default/files/publications/documents/IDMC_Internal_Displacement_Index_Report_2021.pdf.
4 Id.
5 DTM, 2021. IOM Nigeria Displacement Report 7 North Central and North West Zones. https://
displacement.iom.int/sites/g/files/tmzbdl1461/files/reports/Round%207%20North%20Central%20
and%20North%20West%20Report.pdf
6 Id.
7 IDMC, Internal Displacement Index Report 2021.
8 S.   ,    
 (Geneva: UNHCR 2012).
9 ,   (Ithaca, NY:
Cornell University Press 2004).
10 J.R. Rogge, Repatriation of Refugees: A Not So Simple ‘Optimum’ Solution, in 
 (Suffolk: James Currey Publishers 1994).

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