By Rabiu Sani
Maiduguri – Mr Antonio Canhandula, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator to Nigeria, has condemned the alleged execution and abduction of people on major highways by armed groups in Borno.
Mrs Eve Sabbagh, the Head of Public Information of the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday in Maiduguri.
Canhandula said the organisation was horrified by reports it received on Monday of the execution of many civilians and the abduction of several others traveling on Monguno-Maiduguri and Damaturu-Biu Roads respectively.
“As information is still coming through, the humanitarian community working in the northeastern state of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, condemn 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 best to prevent further violence and brutality and to protect the civilian population, including aid workers, from such grave violations of international laws.
“Our concerns are especially with women and children who are among the most vulnerable and are caught up in the violence,” Canhandula said.
Canhandula also noted that the upsurge in violence witnessed over the past years and attacks on main roads in the past six months had clearly resulted to the deterioration of humanitarian situation.
He disclosed that over 160,000 people fled their homes for safety and currently taking shelter in congested camps, adding that the situation was over stretching the capacity of many IDPs’ camps.
The UN official said insecurity and violent attacks continue to hamper the ability of people in many areas of Borno and Yobe to access basic services, livelihoods, land for farming and grazing activities.
According to him, over 36,000 people were killed since 2009 and 9 aid workers lost their lives while trying to provide lifesaving assistance to those in need in Borno.
“Over 7 million people remain in need of urgent lifesaving assistance in the crisis-affected states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. Many are surviving in harsh conditions without humanitarian assistance as UN and humanitarian organisations estimated 1.2 million people have become unreachable.
“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.
He said the protection of civilians should be paramount.
“We therefore call on the general public, including the media, to refrain from sharing any unconfirmed information or spreading misinformation which could endanger the safety of missing and abducted persons.’’ (NAN)