Thousands of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Dikwa and surrounding communities in Borno State could be plunged into more hardship following a series of attacks by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), an offshoot of Boko Haram.
The Nigerian International NGO Forum (NIF) made this observation yesterday, March 3, in a statement shared with HumAngle, where it also strongly condemned the raid.
The ISWAP attack was launched on Monday, March 1, and was sustained the following day as the insurgents engaged in a gun battle with the Nigerian military while laying siege to the United Nations humanitarian hub that hosted tens of aid workers.
This paper earlier reported that the terror group attacked the garrison town from multiple fronts to distract the troops stationed there. A military reinforcement team sent from Maiduguri was ambushed by the terrorists.
Civilians had to escape on foot to Maiduguri, Borno state capital which is about 18 hours away, as well as neighbouring Cameroon. At least six civilians are believed to have been gunned down during the violent attacks, and many others either injured or missing.
On Tuesday, the UN started evacuating humanitarian workers in Northern Borno to prevent further fatalities.
“We are saddened by the loss of lives, the repeated displacement of population, and the deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure and critical aid facilities,” the Nigeria INGO Forum said on Wednesday.
“Dikwa is a congestion hotspot,” it added, citing United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) figures that estimated the population of the town to be 114,000, including over 75,000 displaced people.
“Many of those IDPs have already been subjected to multiple displacements, including the over 3,000 IDPs who, only two weeks ago, fled Marte (to which they had been relocated in December) to due to another attack,” NIF noted.
“In the more than a decade-long armed conflict in north-east Nigeria, civilians continue to suffer from its devastating consequences and to pay the price for the blatant violations of international law that provides for their protection.”
The group observed the burning of the hospital in Dikwa by ISWAP was a violation of international humanitarian law which protects civilian infrastructure.
It condemned the targeting of humanitarian facilities in a region (Northeast Nigeria) where already 8.7 million people are in urgent need of support.
“The Nigeria INGO Forum is horrified and saddened that these attacks would cut-off a very vulnerable population from the much-needed life-saving support provided by aid workers… It is regrettable and unacceptable that aid workers offering these life-saving assistances are also increasingly becoming direct targets,” it said.
“The Nigeria INGO Forum and its 54 members strongly urge all parties to the conflict to abide by their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, and to take all appropriate measures to ensure the protection of civilians, civilian infrastructure, and aid workers.”
NIF urged that all parties to the conflict allow humanitarian workers to have full access to victims of war who are in need of critical assistance, in line with international legal obligations.
“Humanitarian workers are not a target,” it cautioned.