The Nigeria International Non-Governmental Organisation Forum (NIF) has condemned the killing of five humanitarian workers by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a terrorist group that separated from Boko Haram in 2016.
ISWAP had released a video on Wednesday that showed the killing after its demand for $500,000 was not met.
The victims, employees of Action Against Hunger (AAH-ACF), ACTED/REACH, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), and Borno State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), were kidnapped in June along the Monguno-Maiduguri road in Borno State.
In a statement shared with HumAngle on Friday, NIF, which has a total of 55 international NGO-members operating in the country, “strongly condemned the execution” of the aid workers.
“Our colleagues were abducted on June 1 and 8 by a non-state armed group on the road between Monguno and Maiduguri (Borno State) and were gruesomely executed by their captors despite calls for their release,” it noted.
“They had dedicated their lives to providing life-saving assistance to the millions of vulnerable people affected by a decade-long, protracted armed conflict in north-east Nigeria. We condemn, in totality, this atrocity, and stand in solidarity with their families and with ACF, ACTED, IRC and SEMA.”
It observed that the brutal act violates international humanitarian law “and amounts to a war crime as per United Nations Security Council Resolution 1502 of 2003”.
NIF said that over 10 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance in the Northeast as a result of various forms of conflict and aid workers who are delivering this support should not have to risk their lives.
“Since the beginning of 2019 alone, eight aid workers were executed following their abduction, while the whereabouts of two others remain unknown,” it said.
“This is unacceptable: aid workers are not a target. Attacks on aid workers result in the loss of life of those who dedicated their lives to support others, and deprive people of desperately needed assistance and access to basic services.”
The association urged parties to the conflict to give unhindered access to the affected regions, protect civilians, and stop victimising humanitarian workers. It additionally demanded that the bodies of the slain workers should be returned to their families.
“We also call for the unconditional and immediate release of the two aid workers whose whereabouts remain unknown,” the statement added.
“Our thoughts are with the families of our colleagues, their friends, and their colleagues and we send them our condolences.”