Nigeria: NEMA, ECOWAS Seek Adequate Security for Aid Workers

20 August 2019

Abuja — The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have called for adequate security for aid workers in Nigeria.

Speaking at the programme to mark the World Humanitarian Day, 2019, the director general of NEMA, Engr. Mustapha Maihaja said, "It is a fact that humanitarian workers globally are exposed to lots of risks. Sometimes they are faced with extreme threats that affect their survival, especially in disaster situations such as violent conflicts. Unfortunately it has always been from time immemorial and impacted so much on both local and international aid workers. From the high profile incidence of 18th September 1961 involving Mr Dag Hammarskjold who was the Secretary General of the United Nations to the recent abductions and murders of aid workers in Nigeria and many other parts of the world, the humanitarian workers deserve recognition as well as adequate protection."

Speaking on the casualty figures of aid workers recently, Maihaja, who was represented by Vincent Owan said, "Sadly, attacks on humanitarian workers have been on the increase. For instance, in 2015 four NEMA staff survived an attack on a camp of Internally Displaced Persons in Yola where they were providing humanitarian supports. But another staff, John Iliya wasn't so lucky as he was killed by Boko Haram insurgents on 8th August last year in the line of duty while providing supports in Borno State. In April this year, four staff of the Agency on humanitarian service in community affected by flood in Rivers State were kidnapped and spent more than seven days in captivity.

"Recently, the emergency rescue equipment of the agency in Central Business Area, Abuja were razed down in another attack targeted at NEMA personnel and facilities."

Also speaking on the theme of the programme, "Harnessing the role of women in humanitarian actions: from vulnerability to building resilience", the representative of the ECOWAS president, Dr Siga Fatima said women are actually the first respondents to any disaster and women are mostly targeted at the time of crisis and hence, the need for protection.

She expressed ECOWAS readiness to support all activities that will protect women and aid workers in general.

The World Humanitarian Day provides the opportunity to reflect on the risk associated with the provision of humanitarian services and honour the heroism of defying obvious dangers to offer hope and succour in dire situations.

The United Nations General Assembly in 2008 set aside 19th of August every year as the World Humanitarian Day to commemorate the 2003 terrorists attack in Bagdad, Iraq where 22 people lost their lives including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Special Representative of the Secretary General to Iraq, Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello.

Recall that the United Nations, over the weekend, disclosed that Boko Haram conflict had claimed at least 35,000 lives and displaced 1.8 million persons internally between 2009 and 2019, in the North-eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.

According to the UN, among the dead, were about 37 aid workers who lost their lives in service to humanity since the beginning of the conflict in the Northeast.

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