Terrorism: Four Borno LGAs Completely Inaccessible, Says UNICEF

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Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja

The United Nations Children’s Emergency  Fund (UNICEF) has stated that  four Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Borno State were completely inaccessible for humanitarian assistance as a result of  activities of terrorists in the affected places.

It said attacks and armed clashes remained consistently high across the state, thus hampering its efforts to reach women and children in need of urgent help.

The position of  the UN agency is coming against the backdrop of the capture, last week, of Marte LGA by terrorist group, Boko Haram.

However, military authorities have denied that Marte LGA was under the control of insurgents.

But in its latest report entitled “Situation Overview and Humanitarian Needs’, UNICEF said Marte, which the insurgents captured last week and three other local councils notably Abadam, Guzamala, and Kukawa were completely inaccessible owing to insurgent attacks.

It said many local government councils remained partially accessible.

“The security situation remains volatile, with a significant impact on humanitarian access. Four LGAs remain completely inaccessible – Abadam, Guzamala, Kukawa, and Marte – to humanitarian actors while access to Kala Balge LGA (Rann) remains severely constrained. UNICEF has only been able to conduct a limited number of day trips to Rann – Kala Balge LGA, where the nutritional situation of children appears to be deteriorating.

“A rapid MUAC -Middle Upper Arm Circumference- screening of children under five by community mobilisers revealed that 263 out of 460 children screened were suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM).UNICEF is planning to provide treatment for both severe and acute malnutrition using extended criteria. Acute needs have also been identified by other sectors, including wash, shelter/NFI and food security,” it said.

The UN agency said “many other LGAs are only partially accessible, and the number of armed clashes and attacks remains consistently high across the state. A marked deterioration in road security has further increased humanitarian actors’ reliance on UNHAS helicopters to reach many locations, including monguno, where there are significant humanitarian needs following the arrival of nearly 15,000 newly displaced.”

 persons over the past six months.

“Humanitarian actors consider it unlikely that the security situation in the majority of LGAs of Borno State will allow for any population return in the near future, either of IDPs or refugees. The urgency of overcrowding and congestion of camps is rising as the rainy season approaches, particularly in Maiduguri and Monguno where more than 20,000 people are still sleeping under open skies”.

The report said “negotiations with civilian and military authorities have resulted in the promise new land in Monguno, for which humanitarian partners are still awaiting final approval. In the meantime, no concrete progress has been made on the allocation of new land in Maiduguri, Bama, Pulka and other locations”.

It said “the spread of measles in the month of April reduced compared to the previous month, with 2,657 measles cases recorded during the reporting period – just under 60 per cent of the caseload observed in March.

“So, far, 11,153 cumulative cases have been reported across the country. In the three North-east states, Borno recorded 674 cases in 28 LGAs; Adamawa had 108 cases in 20 LGAs, and Yobe had 106 cases in 13 LGAs. UNICEF is supporting the State Primary Health Care Development Agency (SPHCDA) in social mobilisation and readiness for the second phase of the measles campaign scheduled for the second week of May”.

Efforts made to get the response of the Nigerian Army’s Spokesman, Col. Sagir Musa, were not successful as his phone was switched off at the time of filing this report