The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has resumed assistance to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Borno State, 24 hours after an army raid on its Maiduguri compound.
The organisation had suspended its activities to protest the raid which the army said was in search of high profile elements of the terror sect, Boko Haram, which informants claimed had infiltrated the part of the city where the building is located.
Governor Kashim Shettima, in a swift response to the suspension of activities by UNOCHA, convened an emergency Security Council meeting to review the development where he pledged government’s continued diplomatic protection for the UN personnel.
In attendance were the General Officer Commanding the 7th Division of the Nigerian Army, the State Commissioner of Police, the State Director of DSS and the United Nations Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator, Peter Lundberg.
It was gathered that Shettima also put a call through to UN’s Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, to reassure the organisation of government’s commitment to safeguarding the lives of the humanitarian workers and ensuring respect for international protocol.
At the end of the meeting, all those in attendance, including Shettima, proceeded to the UN property as a sign of good faith and to rebuild public confidence in humanitarian workers.
Speaking to reporters, Lundberg said the UN would continue to support Nigeria to address the major problems affecting education, health, nutrition and security challenges occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency.
He reaffirmed its commitment to support the Federal government’s counter-terrorism efforts in the North-East region and said the raid conducted by the military on UN Humanitarian facility in Maiduguri would not affect its relations with the country,
“I am very pleased to inform you that our relationship of collaboration and trust is intact, and at this stage, we are focused on the work ahead, to ensure that the millions of vulnerable people in the North-East are supported with life-saving humanitarian aid,” he stated.
“I reiterated that we are here in support of the government of Nigeria, the UN agencies and over 60 development organisations working to provide the much-needed food, shelter, safe water, latrines and medicines.”
Lundberg announced that the UN had resumed its services saying the UN estimated that about 8.5 million people were in dire need of humanitarian assistance in the North-East and Lake Chad region.
He said that the UN has targeted 6.9 million people for the distribution of humanitarian assistance in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.
The Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Major Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, on is part, described the UN as one of its strongest and worthy allies in the counter insurgency fight against Boko Haram.
He said the army was always ready to work with all UN agencies in the Northeast with a view to ending the current crisis explaining that the UN building was not singled out for search and that the army was not even aware that it was being used by a UN agency.
“The Nigerian Army is very aware of the need of the UN agencies to discharge their duties and we are ready to support them,” he said.
“The army will continue to work toward providing enabling and conducive environment to UN agencies to enhance their operations.
“We are working in the front line with the UN; it is complimenting the effort of the government by providing succour to the displaced victims.
“Such working collaboration is imperative to ensure success of the counter-insurgency campaign in the country.”