The Boko Haram insurgency, specifically the growing attacks against aid workers; has become a source of worry to the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN). This was disclosed in a joint press conference addressed by both bodies on Friday January 24, 2020.
The EU and the UN seized the opportunity to speak out against the recent upsurge in attacks against aid workers; as well as civilians recorded in recent weeks in the north-eastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. Amidst a deteriorating security situation, they reiterated their commitment to work better together and strengthen efforts to provide life-saving assistance; especially to those affected by the Boko Haram insurgency and to increase support to people rebuilding their lives and communities.
Further, the EU has disclosed that it will allocate an additional €26.5 million in humanitarian aid to Nigeria.
The EU’s Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, who announced the donation; emphasized the need to allow aid agencies reach the needy.
“I saw first-hand today the suffering that conflict has brought to people’s lives and how crucial humanitarian aid is to people’s survival. What matters most is that humanitarian organisations can reach all the people in need, without restrictions; including in areas under the influence of non-state armed groups. It is vital that all States and parties to armed conflicts respect their obligation to allow and facilitate the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief.
‘‘It is also key to implement in parallel a comprehensive strategy in the region; exploring political tracks while addressing the root causes of conflict.”
Upsurge in attacks by Boko Haram, others recorded in recent weeks
Lenarčič was visiting Nigeria on his first official trip outside Europe. He was joined by the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon. They met with President Muhammadu Buhari; the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hon. Sadiya Umar Farouq; Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum, as well as various partners from local CSOs; international NGOs and UN agencies implementing the humanitarian response in north-east Nigeria.
During the two-day visit, Lenarčič and Kallon; also met with people displaced and affected by the violence in the Borno State town of Gwoza. Also, they visited EU-funded relief projects.
Recent weeks have been marked by an upsurge in violent attacks by Boko Haram and other splinter groups; who increasingly follow a trend of illegal checkpoints on major supply and commercial routes directly targeting civilians; authorities and aid workers, especially in Borno State.
Equally important, a combined total of 12 aid workers were brutally murdered by Boko Haram and other groups in 2019; twice the number in 2018. In addition, two aid workers, Grace Taku and Alice Loksha, are still being held hostage by insurgents; even as the humanitarian community continues to call for their immediate and safe release.
Humanitarian crisis in Nigeria described as one of the worst globally
Lending his voice; UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Kallon said: “This highly symbolic visit comes at a critical time; and brings together the United Nations, international and Nigerian NGOs, local and national CSOs and the European Union; as one of the most important donors.’’ “We are extremely worried that civilians and those providing them with assistance are the direct target of violent attacks; hindering our ability to save lives and help people rebuild livelihoods and communities.”
“All actors and stakeholders must strengthen their efforts to provide life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable people affected by the crisis; and do their utmost to guarantee the protection of civilians and aid workers; and safe, unconditional access to the people in need.”
The EU and UN describe the humanitarian crisis in Nigeria as one of the largest across the globe. Urgent support and basic services have been delivered to over 5.6 million people in the crisis-affected states of Borno; Adamawa and Yobe by the UN and other NGO/aid agencies.
In 2020, the humanitarian community estimates that 7.7 million people will need emergency assistance. Over 1.8 million people, across the three crisis-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe; are still living in camps or are hosted in other communities. Also, 1.2 million people in need remain cut off from humanitarian aid in hard-to-reach areas.
Boko Haram has waged over a decade long insurgency against the Nigerian government. The crisis has led to the death of thousands and displaced millions more in Nigeria’s North East.