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IDP Camp Bombing: UN, Red Cross, UNICEF, others react

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The United Nations and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement have asked the Nigerian government to ensure the unfortunate incident of Tuesday where dozens of civilians were killed by a military bomb does not reoccur.

In a statement on Wednesday, the UN also called on the Nigerian government to ensure a thorough probe of the attack.

IDP bomb
IDP bomb

PREMIUM TIMES had reported how at least 52 people were killed after a military jet accidentally bombed a camp used by persons displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency. IDPs.

About 120 other occupants of the Rann camp in Kala-Balge Local Government Area were also injured in the attack.

The military has owned up to the bombing and said it was a fatal error as the original targets were suspected Boko Haram members. The federal government has also announced a probe of the incident with President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff leading a government delegation to Borno on Wednesday over the incident.

In its statement on the attack, the UN called for a full investigation into it.

The global body, in a statement issued by the Office of the UN Secretary-General, also called for greater measures to protect civilians in the areas of military operations against Boko Haram insurgents.

“UN humanitarian officials are also questioning how a military airstrike ended up striking the displacement camp.

“Intermingled with messages of sympathy and solidarity with the victims, UN agencies called for a full investigation and greater measures to protect civilians going forward,” the UN said.

The Head of the UN Refugee Agency, Filippo Grandi, who met with Nigerian refugees in Borno in December 2016, called the airstrike “a truly catastrophic event.”

Mr. Grandi, therefore, “called for a full accounting so that the causes are known and measures put in place to ensure this does not happen again.”

In its message, the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, stressed the importance of protecting civilians in complex humanitarian emergencies.

“UNICEF stands in solidarity with our humanitarian colleagues, and the dangerous conditions they work in.

“The aid workers who lost their lives were working to save others,” UNICEF Director for Emergency Programmes, Manuel Fontaine, said.

Amid outpouring of sympathy, UN emergency responders have continued to aid the bombed Nigerian camp, he said.

“United Nations humanitarian helicopter and emergency medical personnel are in north-eastern Nigeria following a military airstrike that hit a displacement camp killing dozens of people, including aid workers, and wounding a reported 100 others.

“The UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), airlifted eight Nigerian Red Cross workers from the camp in Rann as part of the emergency responses.”

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, also said the response included nearly 900 pounds of emergency medical supplies.

“The Nigerian army also deployed a medical team and ‘is working with humanitarian partners to ensure maximum support to the affected people’,” OCHA reported.

Edward Kallon, the UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, had called the airstrike “an unfortunate tragedy that befell people already suffering.”

In its statement on the incident, the Red Cross, ICRC, confirmed that six of its officials were among the dead.

Despite the tragedy, the International aid agency said it has since mobilised personnel to Rann to strengthen rescue efforts there.

A statement quoting Eloi Fillion, the head of delegation for the ICRC in Nigeria, said the six Red Cross workers that died “were in Rann as part of a humanitarian operation bringing food to more than 25,000 displaced people”.

“The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is shocked by the deaths of civilians including six aid workers from the Nigerian Red Cross following an airstrike on the town of Rann, near the border of Nigeria and Cameroon,” the statement noted.

The statement also quoted Bolaji Anani, the president of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, who said they were “deeply saddened by the loss of our six colleagues and shocked that an incident of this magnitude has occurred in a civilian area”.

“Our hearts and prayers are with the bereaved and the wounded as we remain undaunted and focused on our commitment to those who need help.”

Laurent Singa, an ICRC surgeon in Rann, gave an update on the situation in Rann, following the tragedy.

“Hours after Tuesday’s airstrike, a surgical team from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) deployed to Rann, while another ICRC surgical team in Maiduguri prepared to support the Ministry of Health in receiving casualties.

“The team in Rann treated around 100 patients, while nine patients in a critical condition were evacuated by helicopter to Maiduguri on Tuesday.

“Around 90 patients remain in Rann, out of whom 46 are severely injured and need to be evacuated to Maiduguri as a matter of urgency. Patients are attended to in an open-air space in a precarious environment.

“We started medical work in Rann shortly after the incident. The conditions for post-operative care are not adequate, so all the patients must be evacuated to Maiduguri as soon as possible.”

The ICRC extended its heartfelt condolences to the families of all those killed or injured, including those affiliated to the Médecins Sans Frontières.

In his reaction, the Chairman of the Presidential Committee on the North East Initiative, PCNI, Theophilus Danjuma, said the incident was not only tragic but highly regrettable.

In a statement released by the PCNI ‘s Head of Media and Communications, Alkasim Abdulkadir, Mr. Danjuma, a retired general, expressed his heartfelt condolences to the people and government of Borno State
“Our thoughts and prayers are with IDP families, the International Committee of the Red Cross ICRC, Medicines Sans Frontiers MSF, Nigerian Red Cross NRC and other volunteers affected by the ill-fated incident,” he said.

The retired general, whose PCNI has the task of rebuilding the north-east after the Boko Haram insurgency, pledged a thorough investigation into the incident “to avoid similar mishaps in the future.”

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