The United Nations Organisation on Friday began the evacuation of aid workers from Rann community in the Kala-Balge Local Government Area of Borno State, following a heavy Boko Haram terrorists’ attack which left three UN workers dead.
It was learnt that the Boko Haram insurgents late on Thursday attacked the Rann Internally Displaced Persons camp, during which the UN workers were killed.
Two of the deceased workers were with UN agency; International Organisation for Migration, while the third victim was a doctor, working with the UN Children’s Fund. A female UN nurse was also reported to have been abducted by the insurgents.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that apart from the officials, a yet-to-be-ascertained number of civilians in the camp were also killed while many others were injured during the gun battle.
The Boko Haram terrorists reportedly abducted three aid workers and civilians apart from the UN nurse.
Two of the abducted workers are reportedly working with the International Committee of the Red Cross – another major international relief agency in the North-East.
A military source said the terrorists stormed the unit of 3 Battalion, 7 Division, located in Rann at about 6 pm on Thursday and exchanged fire with the soldiers for about five hours.
Three soldiers and three mobile policemen were killed after the firefight.
The source claimed that the terrorists made away with an Armoured Personnel Carrier and a military truck from the unit in Rann.
The United Nations for the Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in a statement on Friday by its spokesperson, Samantha Newport, confirmed the death of its three workers, noting that three other workers were injured by the insurgents.
The UN said, “The Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, has
condemned the killing of three aid workers in Rann town, Borno State, northeast Nigeria on Thursday night following an attack by a non-state armed group on the military facilities next to the town.
“Three aid workers were also injured in the attack, and a female nurse is missing and feared abducted. Two deceased aid workers were contractors with the International Organisation for Migration, working as coordinators in the camp for 55,000 internally displaced persons, who have fled their homes as a result of the ongoing conflict.
“The other deceased aid worker was a medical doctor employed as a third party consultant with UNICEF. The United Nations is also concerned about other civilians who may have been injured or killed in the attack.
“The humanitarian crisis in Nigeria’s northeast, now in its ninth year, shows no sign of abating. Close to 80,000 people, including 55,000 internally displaced persons, currently reside in Rann and are supported with humanitarian assistance.
“The United Nations and non-governmental humanitarian organisations are working across the north-east of Nigeria to provide aid, including food, safe water and medicine, to some 6.1 million people in need in the northeast. Some 3,000 aid workers are present in the northeast, the majority of whom are Nigerian nationals.”
The Humanitarian Coordinator, Kallon, said, “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 .”
Speaking further with our correspondent, the UNOCHA Head of Communications, Newport, confirmed the evacuation of aid workers from Rann.
She said, “It is true that they have started evacuating aid workers. It is largely because the event has been very critical and traumatic. This is what the United Nations tries to do which is to find the right balance – to keep the work going but also to protect the aid workers.
“There has not been a final decision on how many people are coming out and how many people are going back in. There are certainly very important decisions to be made in the next 48 hours.”
Also, the Spokesperson for the ICRC, Aleksandra Mosimann, said there were two midwives in Rann who had yet to be reached.
She said, “The situation is still confusing and we are still trying to make sense of what is going on.
There are two midwives that we have not heard from. We are concerned about their whereabouts and we are hoping that they will be found. When things like this happen, people are scattered.”
Attack on humanitarian aid workers, senseless violence –EU
The News Agency of Nigeria reported that the European Union on Friday condemned the attack.
The EU in a statement by the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, in Abuja, said, “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 and the most vulnerable people aid workers strive to help in Nigeria.
“Humanitarian workers are not a target. Saving lives should not cost lives.
“At this difficult time, the European Union stands by the Nigerian authorities and people.”
US condemns killing of aid workers
The United States also condemned the killing of three aid workers in Rann, Borno State by Boko Haram insurgents.
The US Embassy, in a statement on its website on Friday, said that it was committed to ensuring humanitarian workers were protected and able to do their lifesaving work.
It stated, “We extend our deepest condolences to the families of the victims, and to every family whose loved ones have been affected by this and other terrorist acts. We voice our heartfelt solidarity with all those humanitarian workers who work every day to help Nigerians affected by the ongoing insurgency, and also with all those security forces and Nigerian citizens working together to end this terrorist violence.”