Nigeria: UN Condemns Boko Haram Killing of Four Aid Workers

Map of Nigeria showing the location of Bama and Maidiguri, in Borno State.
14 December 2019

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNICA) and the Action Against Hunger (AAH) on Friday night condemned the execution of the four abducted humanitarian workers by Boko Haram.

The ISWAP faction of Boko Haram on Friday shared a gory video recording that detailed the execution of four out of the five abductees that remained in their captivity.

The four slain aid workers who were abducted on July 18 were staff of the AAH.

The murder of the four aid workers has brought the number of the abducted humanitarian workers slain by Boko Haram to five this year. This leaves only Grace Taku, a female humanitarian worker of the AAH, in Boko Haram custody. Her captors have now declared her their "slave."

Ms Taku was the one that spoke on behalf of the five others (now killed) when Boko Haram abducted them in July.

Last July, an employee of AAH, two drivers, and three health ministry personnel were kidnapped while delivering humanitarian aid to extremely vulnerable people in Borno State. The first hostage to be executed from the group was killed at the end of September this year.

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, in a statement shared with PREMIUM TIMES condemned "the announced execution of four aid workers by armed groups in Nigeria's northeastern Borno State on 13 December, according to a statement released Friday night."

Mr Kallon pleaded that Ms Taku should be released at once.

The AAH had also issued a statement mourning the murder of their abducted staff.

The relief agency said it condemned the killings "in strongest terms" even as it also regrets that the calls for the release of the hostages were not hardened.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr Kallon, said he was "deeply saddened and outraged by the news of the tragic killing of four aid workers who were held captive by armed groups for almost five months."

"My thoughts go to their families, friends, and colleagues who are enduring unspeakable pain and hardship," the UNOCHA statement quoted him.

He said the four men were amongst the six aid workers who were abducted when their convoy came under attack near Damasak, in Mobbar LGA.

"They were working on a health project implemented by the INGO Action Against Hunger. One of the drivers was killed during the attack and another was reportedly executed on 24 September 2019.

Mr Kallon maintained calls for the release of other humanitarian workers still in captivity.

"I plead for the immediate release of Grace Taku, the only woman who was in the ACF team, and whose whereabouts remain unknown," he said.

"I also call for the immediate release of Alice Loksha, a nurse and a mother, who was abducted during an attack in Rann in March 2018."

He described December 13 as "another sad day for the people of Nigeria and the humanitarian community supporting them.

"These colleagues were devoting their lives to helping the most vulnerable communities in Borno State. Despite the risks, they were driven by the values of solidarity and humanity."

He said the United Nations and NGO partners in Nigeria are working to bring vital assistance to over seven million people in the crisis-affected states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe.

"They are increasingly the target of violent attacks. Seven aid workers have been killed since the beginning of the year, amongst 26 UN and NGO workers have lost their lives in the conflict since 2011.

"Violence against humanitarian actors jeopardizes access to much-needed assistance for people affected by the armed conflict," stressed the Humanitarian Coordinator.

"I renew the call for all armed actors to respect the principles of humanity, neutrality, independence, and impartiality which guide humanitarian assistance, and to ensure the protection of aid workers."

"The armed group responsible for kidnapping six humanitarian workers in northeast Nigeria on July 18, 2019, today claimed that they have executed four hostages. This brings the number of fatalities to five. We extend our deepest sympathies to their loved ones and our colleagues in Nigeria."

Action Against Hunger wants Immediate release of remaining staff

Action Against Hunger said it condemns the latest killings "in the strongest terms and deeply regrets that calls for the release of the hostages have not been acted upon."

"We are extremely concerned and call for the immediate release of our staff member, Grace, who remains in captivity. According to a statement published on its website AAH "said categorically that every attack against humanitarian workers ultimately impacts vulnerable civilians."

The aid organisation said it is currently providing food assistance every month to approximately 300,000 people in northeast Nigeria who have no access to livelihoods and food.

"In addition, our teams are reaching thousands more with life-saving health and nutrition services.

"Action Against Hunger requests that the public and media respect the dignity of the victims and the privacy of their families by not sharing images or videos that may circulate on the Internet.

"Action Against Hunger as no further comments at this stage."

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