Yusuf Bello|The United Nations on Thursday condemned the spate of attacks on aid workers providing support to victims of insurgency in the war-ravaged north-eastern part of Nigeria.
Edward Khallon, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, who stated this in a statement, said the number of humanitarian workers killed by the insurgents last year was twice the figure recorded in the previous year.
He said, “A total of twelve aid workers have lost their lives in 2019.”
“This is twice more than in 2018, which we thought was amongst the most dangerous years for humanitarian actors in Nigeria.”
Khallon blamed the killings on the environment in which aid workers carry out their duties, equally decried the activities of the insurgents at various checkpoints in the region, saying the trend has exposed a lot of innocent citizens to attacks in recent times.
“I am extremely worried by the increasingly insecure environment that humanitarians are working in to provide urgent and vital assistance to civilians affected by the crisis.
“The humanitarian community is troubled by the increased trend in vehicular checkpoints set up by non-state armed groups along main supply routes in the states of Borno and Yobe.”
“These checkpoints expose civilians and humanitarians to heightened risks of being killed or abducted,” he said.
He, therefore, urged the Nigerian Government and all relevant agencies to protect the residents and aid workers from “grave violations” of international laws.
Kallon, who also spoke on the five refugees freed by the insurgents on Wednesday, said he was “deeply relieved that some civilians, including three aid workers, who were abducted by non-state armed groups” last year, were released and are now safe.
He said, “The whole humanitarian community in Nigeria shares the joy of the families, friends, and colleagues of these aid workers, who can now put to rest the unimaginable anxiety of missing their loved ones. ”
“These dedicated humanitarians were working to provide life-saving support to millions of Nigeria’s most vulnerable in north-eastern Borno State. They should never have been a target, or have to endure the trauma of being held captive.”
Kallon said despite the “encouraging news”, he is concerned about the fate of the other civilians abducted in that incident.
“I also remain gravely concerned for the lives of our ACF colleague Grace Taku, abducted near Damasak in July 2019, and Alice Loksha, a nurse and a mother, abducted during an attack in Rann in March 2018. Both are still held captive by non-state armed groups.”
He said “the United Nations and its humanitarian partners “call for their immediate and safe release.”