Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
ActionAid Nigeria has called on government at all levels to uphold their responsibility on the safety and security of humanitarian workers.
ActionAid Nigeria, a humanitarian non-governmental organisation (NGO) working to combat poverty and all forms of injustice in Nigeria, made the call yesterday to commemorate the 2020 World Humanitarian Day alongside other development agencies globally.
The Country Director of the agency, Ene Obi, while commending staff and all humanitarian workers across the world who have continued to risk their lives to provide lifesaving support and assistance to those in need and distress, said: “This year, the World Humanitarian Day comes at a difficult time when the world is dealing with one of the deadliest pandemics in the history of human existence-COVID-19.”
She said: “The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continues to rise, inducing hardship, mortalities, and economic crisis for many countries. The COVID-19 pandemic represents the single current biggest challenge to humanitarian workers and aid operations around the world.
“For humanitarians and organisations working in Nigeria, this also comes at a time when there is an increased targeting of aid workers. Just last month in North-eastern Nigeria, five humanitarian aid workers who were earlier abducted while on duty saving lives were murdered by Armed Opposition Groups (AOGs). Since 2011, not less than 47 aid workers have been killed in Nigeria; today, like every other day, we remember our fallen heroes and we send our deepest condolences to their families and friends.”
Obi added that: “As we celebrate the efforts of humanitarian workers across the country, we also take this time to stand in solidarity and appreciate all our frontline workers responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Since the COVID-19 outbreak, there has been an increase in the number of reports of security incidents against health and aid workers, their assets and facilities, including threats and acts of violence often fueled by misinformation and fear. The outbreak of conflict is strongly correlated with poor economic conditions, and if left unaddressed, the large economic shocks induced by the pandemic are likely to fuel conflict in areas where violence and insecurity were not major concerns before, and generate even greater risk to aid workers and need for aid.”
She said: “Humanitarian workers should not go about their duties in fear and anxiety. Humanitarian workers are not part of the war; they take no sides but stand with the poor and vulnerable communities that they serve. As we celebrate humanitarian workers all around the world, but most especially those working in communities around Nigeria, ActionAid Nigeria strongly condemns all forms of violence against humanitarian aid workers.”