from AHMED OBAFEMI in Maiduguri, Nigeria
MAIDUGURI, (CAJ News) – THE humanitarian community in Nigeria has welcomed the release of five civilians, including three workers, by Islamist militants northeast of the country.
The Islamic State – West Africa Province (ISWAP), a faction of the Boko Haram, had kidnapped the individuals in an illegal checkpoint the extremists set up along a highway in the restive Borno State on December 22.
“The whole humanitarian community in Nigeria shares the joy of the families, friends and colleagues of these aid workers, who can now put to rest the unimaginable anxiety of missing their loved ones,” said Mohammed Kallon, the humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria.
Despite the encouraging news, the envoy expressed concern about the fate of the other civilians abducted in that incident as well as others kidnapped in previous months.
“The United Nations and its humanitarian partners call for their immediate and safe release,” Kallon said.
A total of twelve aid workers lost their lives in Nigeria in 2019.
This is twice more than in 2018, which was initially thought to be among the most dangerous years for humanitarian actors in the West African country.
Aid workers are killed or abducted while providing assistance to the most vulnerable populations in crisis-affected Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States.
“I call on all parties to assure the safety of aid workers and the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid,” Kallon said.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with an estimated 200 million people, is battling a rebellion by Islamist sects east of the country.
Over 30 000 people were killed and thousands others kidnapped while over three million were displaced over the past decade.
– CAJ News