The Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon, has condemned the killing of four aid workers in Rann, a border community with Cameroun in Kala Balge Council of Borno State.Another aid worker was also injured in the Thursday night attack by suspected Boko Haram insurgents on the town, which hosts a camp for over 55,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
A female nurse attached to the IDPs camp was feared abducted by the insurgents.
Rann, a farming and herding community, is located175 kilometres north of Maiduguri, the state capital.
Two of the deceased were personnel of UN client organisation, International Organisation of Migration (IOM), deployed to Rann as camp managers.
The others killed were a medical doctor working as consultant with UNICEF and an aid worker with International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) affiliate organisation.
Kallon, while condemning attack yesterday in a statement by Samantha Newport, Head of Communications, UNICEF Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), recalled that aid workers put their lives on the line every single day to provide emergency assistance to vulnerable women, children and men.
“Our deepest condolences go to the families of the victims and our brave colleagues and we call on authorities to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice and account,” Kallon said in the statement.
He further disclosed that two deceased aid workers were contractors with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) working as coordinators in the camp for the IDPs who fled their homes as a result of the ongoing insurgency that has claimed many lives and property in the northeast.
“The other deceased aid worker was a medical doctor employed as a third-party consultant with UNICEF,” he said, adding that the UN was also concerned about other civilians that may have been injured or killed in the attack.
Kallon said the humanitarian crisis in the northeast, which has spilled over into the Lake Chad region, is one of the most severe in the world today, noting: “Over 7.7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance this year in the worst-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, and 6.1 million targeted for humanitarian assistance,” he stated.
He further disclosed that over 80,000 people, including the 55,000 IDPs who currently reside in Rann, are being supported with humanitarian assistance, saying: “We’re working across the northeast of Nigeria to provide aid, including food, safe water and medicine to some 6.1 million people in need in the northeast,” adding that 3,000 aid workers are present in the region, with majority of them Nigerians.
In the same vein, the European Union (EU) also condemned the attack.
The European Union Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, in a statement issued yesterday by the Press Officer, EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr. Modestus Chukwulaka, expressed worries that the attack had resulted in casualties, with humanitarian aid workers among the victims.
“This senseless violence is a grave violation of all humanitarian principles. Right now, our thoughts are with families, friends and organisations of all those affected, as well as the most vulnerable people aid workers strive to help in Nigeria.
“Humanitarian workers are not targets. Saving lives should not cost lives. At this difficult time, the EU stands by the Nigerian authorities and people. These attacks will never deter our commitment to support those that are most in need in Nigeria,” Stylianides said.
A member of Civilian JTF, who craved anonymity, told The Guardian that eight soldiers were killed in the attack.
Mohammed Abdiker, IOM director of Operations and Emergencies, said the militants had “superior firepower” and were “armed with automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and gun trucks.
“We are outraged and saddened at the killings of two of our colleagues in the attack.”
Sources in Rann said the insurgents, moving on gun trucks and motorcycles, infiltrated the town and attacked the military base of the 3rd Battalion military base and the IDPs camp about 7 p.m. on Thursday.
But there was no immediate official confirmation of the casualty figures.
In January last year, a Nigerian air strike intended to hit Boko Haram insurgents, killed over 100 people, wounding many civilians, including personnel of ICRC and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) distributing food at the time.
The military, however, referred to the bombing as a mistake and blamed it on “the fog of war.”
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) board of inquiry later blamed “lack of appropriate marking of the area” for the bombardment and an unexpected gathering of people in the town.
The latest attack comes almost two weeks after Boko Haram attackers kidnapped 110 schoolgirls from Dapchi in neighbouring Yobe State.
The kidnapping and continued attacks in the region have raised questions about the extent of the federal government’s claims to have virtually defeated Boko Haram.
The insurgents have increasingly turned to attack of soft targets and kidnapping for ransom as a way to finance their operations and win back key commanders in prisoner swaps with the government.