Recent wave of attacks in north-east Nigeria ‘unprecedented’ – UN refugee agency

This 14-year-old boy was shot when gunmen attacked his school in Nigeria, killing three of his friends. His parents will take him away from the area. UN Photo/Isaac Billy

9 May 2014 – The United Nations refugee agency said today it is alarmed at the recent wave of attacks on civilians in north-east Nigeria which has led to population displacement both inside the country and into neighbouring States.

“The brutality and frequency of these attacks is unprecedented,” Adrian Edwards, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters in Geneva.

“The past two months have seen multiple kidnappings and deaths, creating population displacement both inside Nigeria and into neighbouring countries,” he added.

Mr. Edwards said that refugees and internally displaced people alike are reporting acts of extreme violence, and show clear signs of distress and fear. Some have witnessed friends or family members being randomly singled out and killed in the streets.

“People speak of homes and fields being burned to the ground, with villages completely razed, or grenades being launched into crowded markets killing people and livestock,” he stated.

“There is mention of people being caught in fighting between insurgents and the armed forces, arbitrary arrests under the suspicion of belonging to insurgent groups, and other serious alleged crimes including, reportedly, summary executions.”

Terrorized students who had survived attacks on their schools in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states have told UNHCR how they saw friends being killed or kidnapped. The abduction of over 200 girls from a school in Chibok in Borno state last month is just one in a series of similar kidnappings from schools in north-east Nigeria in recent months.

Mr. Edwards noted that next week will mark the first anniversary of the Nigerian Government’s declaration of a state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states. In all, 250,000 people are now internally displaced, according to the Nigeria Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

In addition, some 61,000 others have fled to neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Most are Niger nationals who were living in Nigeria, but 22,000 are Nigerians who have been made refugees by the crisis.


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