Signs of normalcy in many parts of Borno slim –UN agency

October 5, 2017

Niyi Odebode and Olaleye Aluko

 The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has said there is “little indication” of a return to normalcy in many areas of Borno State.

It said in the three North-East states (Borno, Yobe and Adamawa) affected by the activities of the Boko Haram insurgency, the Internally Displaced Persons were concentrated in 25 towns.

The UNOCHA stated this in the September, 2017 edition of its publication, ‘North-East Nigeria Humanitarian Overview’.

In a write-up titled, ‘Challenges and the Way Forward’, the UN agency stated, “Outside of Maiduguri, the state capital, civil administration and state services are limited. Most recently, humanitarian partners have noted with concern an increase in attacks in and outside the IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) locations.

“In many areas, there is little indication of a return to normalcy in the near future. Trips a few kilometres outside the LGA (local government area) headquarters to farm, to fetch firewood or collect water – most of the time with mandatory military escorts — carry the risk of attacks or abduction by Boko Haram.

“Market and trade activities have drastically reduced as security measures and border and market closures limit food. Most populations in rural areas will not be able to resume full economic or agricultural activities in the coming months or even years and will likely depend on aid delivery.”

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The UN agency stated that despite the significant “scale-up of humanitarian operations since October 2016, the ability of humanitarian agencies to reach conflict-affected people with timely humanitarian assistance, remains severely constrained outside large towns.”

It added that at the beginning of 2017, about 700,000 people were estimated to be inaccessible by humanitarian workers.

The agency said although thousands of civilians continued to leave highly insecure areas for main towns, there were thousands of people outside the reach of humanitarian responders.

It added that armed conflict between the Nigerian Armed Forces and Boko Haram insurgents was still going on in the North-East, especially in Borno State.

“The civilian population of vast swathes of Borno State has abandoned the rural areas and 1.7 million internally displaced persons in the three states (over half in host communities)  are concentrated  in 25 towns.”

The UN group, however, noted that there was gradual improvement of Nigeria’s 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan funding status.

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It stated that as of September 1, 2017, Nigeria’s HRP was 48 per cent funded – up from 22 per cent in April.

The group noted that the trend should be sustained to enable humanitarian partners to meet the growing needs.

“The humanitarian community in Nigeria acknowledges the need to step away from business as usual, and continue to make concerted efforts to strengthen coordination, increase effectiveness and bridge humanitarian development divides where possible,” it added.

B’Haram attacking only soft targets, says Buratai

But the Chief of the Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, said the activities of Boko Haram terrorists had been curtailed by the Nigerian Army and other security agencies to “desperate attacks on soft targets.”

The army chief said this in Abuja on Wednesday at the Directorate of Army Public Relations conference, noting that the Boko Haram terrorists would be completely wiped out within a short time.

Buratai said, “Training is a key requirement for our professionalism. The army, in conjunction with other security agencies, have reached a very important stage in the war against the Boko Haram terrorism. This is after having contained the operations of the Boko Haram and reduced them to desperate suicide attacks and attacks on soft targets with futile attempts to portray themselves as a coherent force.

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“We will continue to engage and degrade them until they are completely wiped out. We are determined to achieve this within the shortest possible time.

“This workshop will update the knowledge of the officers and soldiers in the directorate in information management. The misunderstandings and misconceptions by various human rights organisations and journalists, alleging human rights abuses, will also take a better dimension.

“The deliberations should focus on fashioning out a better means of media cooperation to assist the army operations. This should offer means of also improving civil-military relations and ways to avoid human rights abuses.”

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