Nigeria: UN envoy condemns renewal of heinous Boko Haram attacks on civilians

Refugees and returnees who have fled Boko Haram violence in Borno State, Nigeria, sheltering in Niger's Guesseré village on the border. Photo: IRIN/Anna Jefferys

24 July 2014 – The United Nations envoy for West Africa today strongly condemned the latest killing of civilians reportedly by the Boko Haram group in two Nigerian regions.

Said Djinnit, the head of the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA), expressed profound outrage at the attacks which occurred over the weekend and yesterday, resulting, according to initial reports, in the death of more than 130 people.

According to a statement released by UNOWA, the violence also forced some 15,000 people to flee to the Borno state capital of Maiduguri as well as to neighbouring towns of Biu and Goniri.

Mr. Djinnit, who is also the Secretary General’s High Representative to Nigeria, expressed condolences to the bereaved families and called on the Nigerian authorities to do all they can to end the carnage and bring the perpetrators to justice.

He also reiterated the UN’s support for effective regional efforts to put an end to the terrorism threat and Boko Haram attacks.

Meanwhile, two independent UN human rights experts called on the Government of Nigeria and the global community to address the dire plight of some 3.3 million people displaced in the country due to violence which began in 2010.

A news release issued by the experts yesterday in Geneva noted that Nigeria today has one of the highest numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the world.

“International support to protect and assist those displaced has remained woefully insufficient and has not kept par with the speedy increase of IDPs in Nigeria,” warned Chaloka Beyani, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of IDPs.

“Large-scale internal displacement remains a national challenge in Nigeria,” Mr. Beyani noted. “The prevention of further displacement caused by indiscriminate killings, burning of villages and grenade attacks in crowded markets has to be a priority.”

The expert urged that all sides spare civilians and civilian areas, and stressed that most of the displaced are women heads of households, many of them widows, and children.

“They have been the victims of violations, they have been traumatized, they have lost any means to provide for themselves, let alone their families, and they need urgent assistance,” Mr. Beyani said. “Not only have IDPs lost all means to provide for themselves, but host communities have also exhausted their support capacity.”

The Nigerian Government, he added, must adopt its draft national policy on IDPs so that it can to serve as a framework to more efficiently respond to the needs of the millions who are displaced.

The Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsak, who visited Nigeria in February, explained that many of those displaced are persons belonging to ethnic and religious minorities who have been victims of violence.

“Urgent steps should be taken to address not only the symptoms but the root causes of the mass displacement that is affecting some regions,” Ms. Izsak said.

“Causes frequently lie beyond ethnic or faith factors, such as competition for land and resources and solutions require good governance in addition to effective security responses.”

Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.


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