- Nigeria Military Dispels Boko Haram on Major Highways to Maiduguri
•BY REMILEKUN DARAMOLA in Maiduguri•
The United Nations (UN) has expressed concern over the upsurge in Boko Haram attacks in North-east Nigeria.
The UN said since the resurgence of the attacks in November, about 260 aid workers have been withdrawn; lamenting that this has affected their humanitarian service delivery in the troubled region.
A statement signed by the spokesperson of the UN in Nigeria, Samantha Newport on Wednesday said, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon, has expressed grave concern following an upsurge in violence in the country’s north-east that has caused tens of thousands of innocent civilians to flee their homes.
The statement read that: “Clashes on 26 December 2018 between Nigerian government forces and non-state armed groups in Baga town, on the shores of Lake Chad about 200 kilometres north of state capital Maiduguri, triggered the massive displacement, with most women, men and children converging on already congested camps or sites for internally displaced people in Maiduguri or Monguno town.
“A subsequent attempted attack on Monguno on 28 December 2018 has exacerbated the situation, generating further displacement amid the uncertainty caused by the clashes.”
Newport quoting Kallon, who was said to have visited Monguno and Teachers Village camp for internally displaced people in Maiduguri, said: “The impact of the recent fighting on innocent civilians is devastating and has created a humanitarian tragedy.
“It is heart-wrenching to see so many of these people living in congested camps, or sleeping outside with no shelter. Civilians continue to bear the brunt of the conflict and the United Nations is extremely concerned about the impact that violence in north-east Nigeria, especially in Borno State, is having on civilians.”
The statement said: “More than 30,000 internally displaced people have arrived in Maiduguri, mainly from Baga, in recent weeks. The majority of these people have arrived since 20 December 2018, often after arduous journeys with young children. This includes an estimated 20,000 internally displaced people who have arrived in Teachers Village camp in Maiduguri, stretching the camp’s capacity beyond the limit.
“It is still unclear how many people are taking refuge in Monguno, but tens of thousands of people are in need of humanitarian assistance, notably shelter, food, water and sanitation.
The statement revealed that: “Some 260 aid workers have been withdrawn from three local government areas (Monguno, Kala/Balge and Kukawa) affected by the conflict since November, affecting the delivery of humanitarian assistance to hundreds of thousands of people.”
It noted that: “This is the largest withdrawal of aid workers since the international humanitarian response scaled up in 2016. While aid workers have started to return to some areas to respond to the urgent, life-saving needs, the lack of a secure operating environment is preventing a return to normal humanitarian activities.”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian military on Wednesday said that it was clearing remnants of Boko Haram fighters on major road leading to Maiduguri, Borno State capital.
A statement signed by the spokesman of the counter-insurgency operation in the North East (Operation Lafiya Dole), Col. Onyema Nwachukwu said there was no truth in media reports that the Maiduguri-Damaturu road was closed to motorists.
The Maiduguri-Damaturu road is perhaps the only safe road leading into the town and had it been closed the town noted, as the birthplace of Boko Haram would sever from the rest of Nigeria by road.
The road in the last one-week had become the latest theatre of war between the military and the terrorist group threatening to capture the nation.
The insurgents have however suffered heavy casualties as they have continued to fall under a heavy air and land bombardment of the Nigerian military.
A statement by Onyema Nwachukwu read: “Our attention has been drawn to rumours that the Nigerian Army has closed Maiduguri-Damaturu road.
“This is not true. What is happening is an ongoing clearance and snap checks operations in the general area required to clear suspected Boko Haram terrorists along that road.
“The clearance operation is ultimately for the safety and security of motorists and other road users.”
He added that: “Members of the public are please advised to cooperate and bear with the troops as they carry out these duties.”