UN, EU speak condemn attacks on humanitarian workers

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European Union flag

The United Nations and the European Union have expressed concerns over incessant attacks on humanitarian workers in the North-east.

The UN resident and humanitarian in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, expressed the concerns during a press conference in Abuja on Friday.

“Today, we are here to send a joint message. We are extremely worried about the challenges faced by civilians and aid workers in the North Eastern States of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe,” Mr Kallon said.

According to him, “there have been an upsurge in violent attacks from non-state armed groups and an increasing trend of illegal checkpoints on major supply and commercial routes directly targeting civilians, authorities and aid workers in Borno State.”

He asked the government to explore a political solution to the problem in the region.

”The first thing I want to establish is that crisis in North-east Nigeria has a regional dimension, so there must be dialogue among the regional actors by talking to States around Nigeria: Chad and Cameroon which President Buhari has been doing and continue to do. This remains extremely critical in finding the solution to this crisis,” he said.

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PREMIUM TIMES reported a series of attacks on aid workers and civilians by Boko Haram.

In 2019, 12 of them were murdered by the armed group.

Mr Kallon also said over 1.8 million people, across the three crisis-affected states “which is almost the equivalent of the entire population of Slovenia, the home country of the EU Commissioner for Crisis Management”, were still living in camps or hosted in other communities “who are themselves, extremely vulnerable.”

EU

Also speaking, the EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said Europe and Nigeria shared a common fight against terrorism.

“I am talking about millions of people who are in need of humanitarian assistance, including those that are beyond the reach at the moment of humanitarian community in the territory under the control of organised armed groups,” Mr Lenarčič said.

Mr Lenarčič also said there is need to ensure security and safety of humanitarian workers in the North-east.

He said all those involved in the crisis were obliged under international humanitarian law to allow access to the suffering population.

Nigerian government

Meanwhile, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Sadiya Farouq, said a dialogue is being put in place to discuss the safety of humanitarian workers.

She said the government of Nigeria has put in resources through different organs to give support to these workers.

According to her, “the government of Nigeria has put in a lot of resources in the military to fight these people (insurgents) but as you know, in crisis no matter how much you put, sometimes we begin to see that we don’t see any impact but we are doing our best.”

”The President has given us directives that we should focus more on early recovery even in North-east. We should also think of developing these areas and how we are going to relocate these people. We should empower them so that they can be economically self-reliant,” she said.

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