UN suspends aid to Nigeria’s Borno state after convoy ambush

1 Aug 16

The United Nations has suspended its humanitarian aid missions to north-eastern Nigeria’s Borno state after a convoy was attacked last week.

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A woman cooks in a Nigerian refugee camp

A woman cooks in a Nigerian refugee camp


UNICEF confirmed on 28 July that unknown assailants had ambushed a convoy carrying goods and staff from UNICEF, the UN’s Population Fund, and the International Organisation for Migration, to those in need of assistance in the state.

One UNICEF employee and one IOM contractor were injured and sent for treatment at a local hospital. The UN has suspended humanitarian assistance missions by UN staff to high risk areas as a result, but UNICEF stressed that it continues to provide supplies to conflict-affected children. 

Over the weekend, Yakubu Dogara, speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives condemned the attack as barbaric and inhuman, according to the country’s Guardian news outlet.

He called on Nigeria’s security agencies to intensify efforts to safeguard the region, much of which has only just become accessible after the country’s military pushed back militant group Boko Haram, which had been in control of many areas of the north east.

As aid workers travelled into the region a few weeks ago, both UNICEF and medical charity Médecins Sans Frontiéres warned that the situation in the state was dire.

UNICEF said it found destroyed towns, frail populations without access to sanitation, food or water, and at least 244,000 children at risk of severe malnutrition.

It warned that the full scale of the emergency was yet to be revealed, as around two million people were still cut off in Borno state.

The agency said last Thursday that before the attack, the security conditions had been improving in several areas.

“This was not only an attack on humanitarian workers,” it said in a press statement. “It is an attack on the people who most need the assistance and aid that these workers were bringing.

“The convoy was in a remote area of north-eastern Nigeria, where protracted conflict has caused extreme suffering and has triggered a severe malnutrition crisis.”

More than 15,000 people have been killed and at least two million displaced by Boko Haram’s insurgency. 

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