From Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri
The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon has expressed concern over interruption of aid delivery to thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Rann, Borno state.
Mrs Samantha Newport, Head of Media and Communications UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) made this known in a statement on Friday in Abuja. The statement noted that Kallon said the interruption in delivery of humanitarian assistance to Rann was a direct result of an attack on the military base on January 14.
Kallon explained that the attack by the non-state armed group started at dusk and continued into the next day and at the time of the attack, an estimated 76,000 IDPs were living in Rann.
Kallon said that presently, Rann was inaccessible to international humanitarian organisations both by road and by air. He said that during the attack, a medical clinic, warehouses with humanitarian supplies and accommodation for aid workers were looted and destroyed while the market and shelters in the camp were also burned down.
“The attacks on Rann that are increasingly frequent are having a devastating impact on the civilians taking refuge in this isolated town and severely affecting our ability to deliver life-saving aid to women, men and children in need.
This attack has spread fear among the already vulnerable population, and humanitarian assets were also targeted. I urge the Government of Nigeria to protect civilians, including aid workers,” Mr. Kallon said.
He said that several civilian fatalities had also been reported, although the total number was not yet known and thousands had also been reported to have fled to Cameroon. He said that 14 aid workers who were in Rann during the attack and able to hide were withdrawn the day after by helicopter.
Newport said that the conflict in North-East Nigeria now in its tenth year, had triggered massive displacement and caused a severe humanitarian crisis with more than seven million people in need.
“In addition to the attack in Rann, clashes in Kukawa and Monguno local government areas in northern Borno have forced more than 43,000 people to flee their homes since November, with more than 32,000 taking refuge in Maiduguri, the Borno capital. Many of these people are converging on already congested camps or sites for internally displaced people, forcing hundreds of individuals to sleep in overcrowded shelters or outside,’’ Newport said.