The United Nations on Thursday expressed great relief over the release of three aid workers and some civilians abducted by non-state armed groups in Monguno, North East Nigeria.
The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, expressed the relief in a statement issued by Eve Sabbagh, Head of Public Information, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Abuja.
The aid workers were abducted along the Monguno-Maiduguri Road on December 22, 2019.
Kallon said: “These dedicated humanitarians were working to provide life-saving support to millions of Nigeria’s most vulnerable in Northeastern Borno State.
“They should never have been a target or have to endure the trauma of being held captive.
“The whole humanitarian community in Nigeria shares the joy of the families, friends, and colleagues of these aid workers, who can now put to rest the unimaginable anxiety of missing their loved ones.”
Kallon also called for the immediate and safe release of Grace Taku, who was abducted near Damasak in July 2019, and Alice Loksha, a nurse and mother, who was abducted during an attack in Rann in March 2018 by non-state armed groups.
He expressed concern over the increasingly insecure environment that humanitarians were working in to provide urgent and vital assistance to civilians affected by crises.
According to him, the humanitarian community is troubled by the increasing number of vehicular checkpoints set up by non-state armed groups along main supply routes in the states of Borno and Yobe.
Kallon said the checkpoints exposed civilians and humanitarian workers to the high risk of being killed or abducted.
He urged all parties to the conflict to protect the civilian population, including aid workers, from the crisis.
He added that protection should be especially accorded to women and children “who are among the most vulnerable” and often caught up in the violence.
According to him, a total of 12 aid workers lost their lives in 2019.
He said the figure was twice more than the number of lives lost in 2018, adding that it was one of the most dangerous years for humanitarian actors in Nigeria.
Kallon added: “Aid workers and the assistance they provide to the most vulnerable populations make the difference between life and death for entire communities in crisis-affected Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states.
“Their security is paramount and I call on all parties to ensure the safety of aid workers and the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid.”