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Thousands of civilians paying heavy price over Boko Haram attacks – ICRC

THE International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC), on Monday, expressed ‘extreme concern’ on the rising humanitarian crisis in northeast Nigeria, stressing that the spate of insecurity has remained unabated.

The humanitarian group said thousands of civilians paid with their lives, adding that the recent attack by the Boko Haram insurgent in Rann, Borno State had caused the largest human displacement since 2017.

As a result, it stated that Maiduguri already hosts more than one million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in 14 camps as well as host communities.

According to reports, the attack was mainly on unarmed, already displaced civilians, who were just recovering from the effects of years of insurgency, in the north eastern part of the county.

The Borno State Government further claimed about 100, 000 people have been reportedly killed and over 2 million displaced as at December 2016.

However, there are concerns especially from the Amnesty International (AI) that the rising insecurity in the region may eventually result in a war crime.

“Thousands of families caught in between the fighting have had to flee for their lives. Parents with their children, taking the little they could, escaped into the bush and slept in the open air. Some managed to reach places — ‘camps’ — where they can receive some assistance, but what about the others?” said Markus Dolder, the head of ICRC’s office in Maiduguri.

In a press statement issued by the ICRC Communication Officer, Eleojo Esther Akpa, in Abuja, the burned-down health facility in Rann was where two ICRC midwives, who were killed in captivity last year once worked.

Not less than 60 people were reportedly killed in the recent attack in the outskirt community of Rann which is about 110 miles away from Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.

“We are extremely concerned by the worsening humanitarian situation in north-east Nigeria. Civilians should be spared by all parties to the conflict, as per international humanitarian law,” Dolder added.

The ICRC maintained that, “55,000 people have been reportedly displaced in the last two months, over 30,000 of whom arrived in Borno’s capital, Maiduguri. Maiduguri already hosts more than one million IDPs in 14 camps as well as host communities. Because the existing camps cannot cope with the sudden influx, the authorities are in the process of opening a new IDP camp.”

The international humanitarian body further said it has launched an emergency response in Maiduguri in coordination with other humanitarian actors and the authorities.

“The building of temporary shelters for 1,500 households is underway, the distribution of essential household items and one-off cash support for all new arrivals, scattered in the various IDP camps, have started.”

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