Maiduguri — Humanitarian workers in the troubled Nigeria North-east region have cried out that they have continued to face life-threatening risk in the region.
The United Nations showed that recent data indicated that attacks on UN, non-government organisations and other aid workers are persisting.
The data equally showed that since the beginning of the conflict in July 2009, a total of 37 aid workers have lost their lives in the service to humanity, with the lives of 35,000 civilians equally lost in the protracted crisis.
A statement by UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Nigeria said aid workers in Abuja, Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States gathered on August 19 to raise awareness on the risks many of them are exposed to every day while providing life-saving assistance to millions affected by the crisis in the Northeast.
The gathering was part of activities to mark the tenth anniversary of World Humanitarian Day.
According to the statement, the gathering also paid a special tribute to women humanitarian workers in Nigeria who also brought their voices to the world.
The statement lamented that "Nigerian and foreign aid workers are on the front lines of one of the most severe humanitarian crises in the world, showing relentless commitment to supporting some of the most vulnerable people in Nigeria."
It quoted the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon, as saying: "I have been impressed by the engagement of Nigerian women and female aid workers from all over the world, who are working tirelessly to extend a helping hand to those affected by the decade-long crisis in the region."
Kallon added: "They are making small miracles happen every day by saving so many lives. But they and their families are also making sacrifices, so it is our duty and obligation to do our utmost efforts to protect them. Aid workers should never be a target."
The statement recalled that the ten-year conflict has devastated communities in North-east region, lamenting that insecurity is hampering the resumption to normal life, leaving conflict-affected families dependent on humanitarian assistance to survive, with about 7.1 million people still in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, while 1.8 million people are internally displaced.
Also in the statement, Patience Joshua, who is working with Norwegian Church Aid, an international NGO providing assistance in the border town of Ngala, Borno State, was quoted as saying: "I also had to flee and leave everything behind when violence and armed attacks hit the area I lived. After several months of being displaced, I came back and saw the devastation.
"I quickly realised that being here as an aid worker is not just another job. It means a lot more to all of us and to the people we are helping."
Commemoration of World Humanitarian Day started on 17 August with a walk to raise awareness in Abuja, and will continue until August 21 with the last events taking place in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.