Over the last decade, 37 aid workers have lost their lives to terrorism in Nigeria.
The global trade union federation, Public Services International (PSI), along with two of its Nigerian affiliates, the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) and the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), commend the Nigerian Federal Government for its ongoing efforts to restore normalcy to the north-eastern part of the country that has experienced over ten years of Boko Haram insurgency.
The violence and terrorism have left behind a huge humanitarian crisis and affected the economic stability of the region. We are even more disturbed by the ceaseless and deliberate attacks by Boko Haram on healthcare facilities and frontline workers in Borno State as a means to impede the delivery of essential health services in the state.
Recently, there has been an upsurge in attacks on health facilities in the Magumeri local government area. In another area, Gubio, a clinic was burnt alongside a Maternal and Child Health (MCH) unit and healthcare staff houses.
With deep consternation, we view these attacks as an indication that there is still very low protection for social service workers operating under the difficult terrain posed by the terrorists’ threats.
Over 10 years of violence in Borno State
people in need of humanitarian assistance
aid workers have been murdered
people have lost their lives
In July, six aid workers working with International aid agency Action Against Hunger (ACF) were kidnapped near the town of Damasak in Borno State.
We have also not forgotten the kidnapping and subsequent execution of 25-year-old ICRC midwife, Saifura Ahmed as well as nurse Hauwa Liman by Boko Haram militants.
These are clear indications that the battle against terrorism in Nigeria is yet to be won.
We are deeply concerned that these recent upsurges in mayhem have targeted harmless and defenseless social service providers. Recent statistics by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) revealed that over 37 aid workers have lost their lives to terrorism over the last decade in Nigeria. These devastating findings reveal continued violations of international humanitarian laws and United Nations resolutions designed to protect health workers in conflict zones.
PSI unreservedly condemn all attacks on health and social care workers in conflict zones, whose sole aim is to provide care, treatment and comfort to the sick, injured and dying. Terrorist attacks deprive populations of access to healthcare because facilities are closed, infrastructure is damaged, and health care providers have to withdraw their staff in the event of attacks. These attacks also impede attempts to tackle outbreaks of diseases, vaccination programmes, and emergency situations (like flooding which is currently ravaging the state). Nurses provide help to all sides in war zones, and to the innocents who have been targeted or caught in the crossfire.
A call to officials
PSI calls for an end to these attacks. The Federal Government and international leaders must not only condemn these atrocities but take prompt action to prevent them from happening in the future and to ensure the safety of frontline workers.
As a signatory to the AU Kampala Convention on IDPs, Nigeria has an obligation to protect the safety of communities and ensure the human rights of those being displaced by the atrocities.
The Federal government needs to do more to protect the lives of workers who risk their lives for societal good. We urge security agencies to review their strategy with increased surveillance and prompt apprehension of suspects with full respect to international human rights norms and standards.
For information, contact:
Moradeke Abiodun-Badru, PSI IDP Project National Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org, +2348035650957.