Kingsley Nweze in Abuja
The United Nations Wednesday disclosed that Boko Haram insurgents have killed over 27,000 civilians since 2009 when the group launched a campaign of violence.
United Nations Humanitarian Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, said this at the UN building in Abuja during a remembrance of 10 years of crisis in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.
Kallon said rising insecurity in the country had pushed over 130,000 people into displacement with most of them seeking refuge at internally displaced persons camps.
Speaking during the inauguration of “Holding On” Virtual Reality Experience in commemoration of the 10 years of crisis in the three states, Kallon urged Nigeria to complement its military effort in the North-east with dialogue and a political process to address the acts of terror in the area.
According to him, the crisis in North-east Nigeria presented an intricate web of issues that requires the collective collaboration of the different actors in search of a durable solution.
He said that priority should be accorded to prevention always, development wherever possible and humanitarian action when necessary.
“The only solution to the crises in the North-east is peace and we must work together to bridge the humanitarian, development, peace, and security nexus in the search for a durable solution to the crisis.
“The crisis that started 10 years ago and has devastated entire communities in North-east Nigeria is still far from over.
“In this very critical period, we must redouble efforts, with the support of everyone at all levels – locally, nationally, and internationally.
“Rising insecurity in the recent months has pushed more than 130,000 newly displaced people on a long trudge.
“Against the backdrop of increased and violent attacks against civilians and humanitarian actors, more than ever we must unite and combine efforts to secure progress and achievements,’’ he said.
Governor of Yobe State, Alhaji Mai-Mala Buni expressed appreciation to the UN and all other development partners for their support.
He also acknowledged their pledge to continue to give their support for the enthronement of peace, security and stability in the region.
He added that Boko Haram had created the worst humanitarian crisis since it came into existence.
He disclosed that more than seven million people in the three affected states were still in need of humanitarian assistance.
“This displacement of people from their communities affects their ability to engage meaningfully in economic activities including farming.
“This in turn has worsened the food security in the affected states.
“Prior to the Boko Haram crisis the North-east region reportedly had the lowest indices of development compared to other parts of the country.
“Many believe that poverty, unemployment, and ignorance are some of the factors that gave rise to Boko Haram insurgency in the first place.
“The reconstruction of the affected areas and the resettlement of the internally displaced persons is most challenging for us in Yobe state given the enormity of the destruction of our infrastructure.
“We stand in need of continues support of the UN and all our development partners,’’ he said.
Head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA), Ms Edem Wosornu, said that the humanitarian community had in the past four years been trying to support Nigeria at both the state and federal levels.
She said that the community would continue to work with the government even more.
Acting Director, Nigeria INGO Forum, Mr. Jubril Shittu, said that the remembrance was also a means to mourn 27,000 Nigerians that had died needlessly in the conflict.
“We also admire the courage of the over 7,000 aid workers, who continue to put themselves in danger in service of common good and living the humanitarian principles of neutrality, independence, impartiality and humanity.
“Over seven million people are today in urgent need of assistance and protection, and more than 1.8 million people internally displaced.
“Civilians continue to bear the brunt of the conflict in Rann, and most recently in Jakana.
“They have been targeted for attacks, resulting in killings and abductions.
“More than 80 per cent of those affected women and children, the most vulnerable in our society.
“They are not just a statistics, they are Nigerians, they are resilient and that is what we need you to see.
“We hope that this exhibition will bring their realities closer to you in your offices, in your board rooms, in your homes in Lagos, in Port-Hacourt, please do not just see join a hand in supporting them,’’ he said.