UN condemns Boko Haram's 'depraved act' as child suicide bombers attack northern Nigeria market

A man stands outside his destroyed home in Baga, Borno State, Nigeria, following heavy fighting between military forces from Nigeria, Niger and Chad, and Boko Haram. Photo: IRIN/Aminu Abubakar

11 January 2015 – Appalled by the escalating bloodshed at the hands of Boko Haram in northern Nigeria over the past week, capped by reports that suspected child suicide bombers attacked a crowded market in war-torn Borno state, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Anthony Lake, head of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), have both strongly condemned the terrorist group's “depraved act.”

A statement issued today by his spokesperson in New York said that Mr. Ban is appalled by reports that hundreds of civilians have been killed around the town of Baga, Borno state, near Nigeria's border with Chad in the past week.

“The situation in Nigeria and the region remains at the top of the Secretary-General's agenda,” said the statement, adding that just yesterday, it was reported that a 10-year old girl was used to detonate a bomb at a market in Maiduguri, also in Borno state, killing at least 19 people.

Utterly condemning the “depraved act at the hands of Boko Haram terrorists,” Mr. Ban underscored the readiness of the UN to assist the Nigerian Government and all affected neighboring States in bringing an end to the violence and to alleviate the suffering of civilians with all available means and resources.

For his part, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said in a separate statement: “These images from Northern Nigeria should be searing the conscience of the world.”

Deploring the reports that so many innocent children, women and elderly had been massacred in Baga, he noted specifically that young girls had been sent to die with a bomb strapped to their chests in Maiduguri. “And lest we forget, more than two hundred girls stolen from their families, still lost,” he added.

“Words alone can neither express our outrage nor ease the agony of all those suffering from the constant violence in northern Nigeria,” Mr. Lake declared, underscoring that the images of recent days and all they imply for the future of Nigeria “should galvanize effective action. For this cannot go on.”

Just two days ago the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) reported that the number of Nigerian refugees seeking safety in Chad has almost quadrupled over the past 10 days after attacks by Boko Haram uprooted about 7,300 Nigerians, forcing them into western Chad, where most are staying with local communities in villages around 450 kilometres north-west of the capital, N'Djamena.

A spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the 3 January attack on the town of Baga alone caused 3,400 people to flee to Chad.

“The Government of Chad has requested international assistance,” said the spokesperson. “The Chadian Government has sent a mission and a medical team to the areas and is providing food assistance and other basic supplies. Humanitarian agencies including OCHA, UNICEF, UNHCR, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are currently in the area assessing needs.”

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