Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The United Nations has expressed dismay over a wave of executions and abduction of civilians on the Monguno-Maiduguri road in northern Borno State, and also the Damaturu-Biu road, a key road linking Yobe and Borno states.
The UN called on the Nigerian government to take urgent steps to prevent further violence and brutality and to protect the civilian population, including aid workers, from such grave violations of international laws, especially as it affects women and children.
The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Antonio Jose Canhandula, in a statement issued in Abuja, said he was horrified by reports received of the execution of many civilians and the abduction of several others.
“As information is still coming through, the humanitarian community working in the northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe condemns the violent incidents that took place yesterday and the increasing practice by armed groups to set up checkpoints targeting civilians.
“It is urgent for the Nigerian authorities to do their utmost to prevent further violence and brutality and to protect the civilian population, including aid workers from such grave violations of international laws, especially women and children who are among the most vulnerable and are caught up in the violence,” Canhandula said.
The United Nations envoy added that over 36,000 people have lost their lives since the beginning of the conflict, even as he said about half of them civilians, who continue to pay the ultimate price of a crisis they did not start and do not want.
He further said since the beginning of 2019, nine aid workers have already lost their lives, while trying to provide life-saving assistance to those who desperately need it in Borno State.
“The upsurge in violence witnessed over the past year, and especially along the main roads over the last six months, is leading to a deteriorating humanitarian situation. Since the beginning of the year, over 160,000 people have fled, looking for safety and arriving in already congested camps, stretching a majority of sites to capacity. Insecurity and violent attacks continue to hamper the ability of people in many areas of Borno and Yobe states, to access basic services, livelihoods, and land for farming and grazing.
“Over seven million people remain in need of urgent life-saving assistance in the crisis-affected states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. Many are surviving in harsh conditions without humanitarian assistance as UN and humanitarian NGOs estimate 1.2 million people have become unreachable to them.
“The humanitarian community in Nigeria reminds all armed groups of their duty to protect civilians and calls for an increased respect of international humanitarian law. The protection of civilians is paramount, and we also call on the general public, including the media, to refrain from sharing any unconfirmed information. Spreading misinformation risks further endangering the safety of civilians abducted and those whose whereabouts are still unknown and could jeopardise their safe return,” Canhandula also said.