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Action Against Hunger asks for release of aid workers sighted in released video

INTERNATIONAL aid organisation, Action Against Hunger has asked for the release of its members of staff shown in a video released by the Boko Haram terrorists.

The Paris-based humanitarian organisation last Friday confirmed that a driver was killed and six other workers were abducted on Thursday July 18 when the terrorists ambushed their convoy when moving to Damasak in Borno State

In  a statement on Thursday, Action Against Hunger confirmed that a video released on the evening of Wednesday, July 24 shows a female Action Against Hunger staff member alongside five companions (drivers and health workers engaged in a humanitarian programme run by Action Against Hunger in Damasak region, Borno State).

It said they were “apparently in a good condition of health.”

“Action Against Hunger strongly requests that our staff member and her companions are released,” the organisation said.

“They are humanitarians and health workers and they chose to dedicate their lives to support the most vulnerable communities in Nigeria. They were only in pursuit of solidarity, humanity and neutrality.”

The organisation further noted that “their abduction fully contradicts International Humanitarian Law and internationally recognised standards for the protection of humanitarian workers and organisations.

“All Action Against Hunger teams and staff express their full support and comfort to our colleague and to her companions who are being detained, as well as to their families and friends.”

The video shows one of the aid workers, a female wearing a blue hijab.

Surrounded by five men believed to be her colleagues, the woman says her name is Grace, and calls on the Nigerian government and international community to intervene.

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Grace in the video, recounted their ordeal on how they were kidnapped on their way back from a field mission.

“My name is Grace, I work with Action Against Hunger an NGO in Borno state. My base is Damasak. We went to work on Thursday the 18th of July 2019 outside Damasak.

“On our way to going back to Damasak, by Kinnari Chamba ward in Damasak we were caught by this army called the Khalifa. They brought us here and actually we don’t know where we are,” she said.

Holding back her tears, she said they all have families and feared being killed, calling on the ACF to do something about their freedom.

She begged the Nigerian government to act on their release, to avoid being killed as in the cases of some “ladies caught, Hauwa and Kabura, that were told to ask to be released but because Nigeria did not act they were killed.”

“I also want to call on Nigeria that we are Nigerians; we are also working for Nigeria. I beg that the Nigerian government should please, and please,” she said.

Grace who spoke on behalf of the other five male abductees, also called on the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to help see to their release, as she is the only Christian among them.

No group has claimed responsibility for the abduction of the aid workers and the released video.

However, the footage of the abductees, according to THE PUNCH, authenticated by AFP on Thursday, was released through the same channel as previous videos from the IS-affiliated jihadists.

The hostages are believed to be held in an ISWAP enclave on the shores of Lake Chad.

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The Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) is a splinter group of jihadist group Boko Haram that swore allegiance in 2016 to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

It has repeatedly attacked military bases and targeted aid workers in northeast Nigeria.

It’s over ten months after Saifura Ahmed, a UNICEF employee who was kidnapped alongside Hauwa Liman, was executed by Boko Haram in September, and Hauwa herself was killed on October 2018.

The Federal Government had been successful in negotiating the release of some Boko Haram hostages, including some of the Chibok schoolgirls, the University of Maiduguri lecturers, some policewomen abducted on their way to a colleague’s funeral, and abducted Dapchi schoolgirls.

But somehow, the government appeared helpless in the cases of Saifura Ahmed and Hauwa Liman.

Two other humanitarian workers still remain with the Boko Haram namely Alice Ngaddah, who was abducted in Rann alongside Hauwa, and Leah Sharibu, the Dapchi schoolgirl that was not released alongside her colleagues because she refused to convert to Islam.

 

 

 

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