By Rabiu Sani
Maiduguri – President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday says his administration accorded priority to improving civil security cooperation to enhance humanitarian intervention in the northeast.
Buhari made this known in Maiduguri at the inauguration of a three-day International Workshop on Improving Civil Security Cooperation (CISEC) in humanitarian intervention in northeast.
“I want to charge the minister of humanitarian affairs to ensure that issues and concern bordering on management of humanitarian cooperation are given greater attention,’’ Buhari, who was represented by Maj.-Gen. Salihi Magashi, Minister of Defence, said.
He said the workshop would provide opportunities for stakeholders to strategies and deliberate on the most effective and efficient ways to address challenges in the implementation of humanitarian actions in the region.
He noted that in many theaters of conflict across the globe, relationship between humanitarian and security actors responding to humanitarian crisis was always with mistrust and misunderstanding.
He added that: “In the northeast of Nigeria, the tension between the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and that of security agencies deteriorated into a full blown impasse this year which eventually resulted in the suspension of activities of some International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) by the Theater Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole,
“Our gathering here today is to strategise and stress importance of fostering better relationship between the military, para military and humanitarian actors in the face of crisis in the northeast.
“I should also remind us that with the proliferation of complex security issues in conflict zones, CSOs and security agencies need to work together on unprecedented scale as these challenges cannot be easily resolved by other side alone.
“These security issues are not just related to war on terror but also associated with security issues like humanitarian emergency, starvation, diseases, banditry and other organised crimes.
“The aftermath of these non-traditional security issues will involve post conflict construction, economic rejuvenation. This requires increasingly diverse ancillary task for both military and civilian organisations which necessitate collaboration.
“The complicated objectives of these activities require an integrated and coordinated response from a multitude of civilian and security actors”.
Mrs Sadiya Faruk, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, said that when civil-security relations were poorly managed, humanitarian action might be compounded by other security problems.
She said this would make it difficult for humanitarian organisations to operate independently in humanitarian environments.
She added that presence of security operatives in many of the crisis ridden areas make those communities safe and accessible for humanitarian actors to carry out their activities.
“The need to ensure cordial, and constructive relations between civil and security actors cannot be over emphasized.
“The workshop will identify common priorities and complementarities between civil organisations and security institutions in order to develop realistic and feasible proposals and outline for a Plan of Action.
“This will strengthen institutions and ensure lasting solutions and structures are put in place so that those in need of humanitarian interventions can access support in a safe and peaceful environment,” Faruk said.
On his part, Gov. Babagana Zulum of Borno, disclosed that his administration had sent a bill to the House of Assembly, to provide a legal framework to ensure regulations and monitoring of humanitarian organisations in the state.
Zulum disclosed that the bill would provide an enabling environment, ensure coordination and guaranteeing protection of humanitarian organisations working in the state.
He warned that the state government would not condone uncoordinated activities by the organisations.
While commending the organisations for their support to the state, Zulum pledged continued support to enable them discharge their duties effectively.
Also speaking, Mr Edward Kallon, the Coordinator, UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA), suggested the adoption of the 7-point agenda developed in partnership with the government to enhance humanitarian organizations’ operations in the country.
He also called on all parties to the conflict to dialogue through constructive political and peace building effort to end the crisis.
According to him, humanitarian organisations had provided support to over four million persons affected by the conflict in 2019, while 1.2 others need critical life saving assistance in the region.
The UN official added that 10 aid workers were killed and six abducted by the insurgents in the northeast in the past 18 months.