By Kingsley Omonobi
AbujaThe United Nations has suspended its humanitarian assistance mission in the North East epicenter of Boko Haram terrorism following a bloody attack on humanitarian convoy by the Boko Haram insurgents, which left several officials of aid groups seriously wounded.
The suspension will be in place pending the review of the security situation in the Northeast.
A statement issued by the UN reacting to the attack said, “Today (Thursday) unknown assailants attacked a humanitarian convoy that included staff from UNICEF, UNFPA and IOM.
The convoy was traveling from Bama to Maiduguri in Borno State, Nigeria, returning from delivering desperately needed humanitarian assistance.
“UNICEF can confirm that a UNICEF employee and an IOM contractor were injured in the attack and are being treated at a local hospital. All other UNICEF, IOM and UNFPA staff are safe.
“The convoy was in a remote area of northeastern Nigeria, where protracted conflict has caused extreme suffering and has triggered a severe malnutrition crisis.
“This was not only an attack on humanitarian workers. It is an attack on the people who most need the assistance and aid that these workers were bringing.
“The United Nations has temporarily suspended humanitarian assistance missions pending review of the security situation.”
Continuing the statement said, “UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org.
The Army headquarters while confirming the attack on the UN bodies in a statement titled “Boko Haram Terrorists Ambush Humanitarian Escort Convoy” said, “Troops returning from Bama on humanitarian escort duty, were ambushed enroute Maiduguri by suspected remnants of Boko Haram terrorists hiding in Meleri village, a few kilometres from Kawuri.
“The gallant troops however, successfully cleared the ambush and exploited up to Afunori.
“Unfortunately, 2 soldiers and 3 civilians were wounded in the ambush, among who were staff of United Nations agencies and other international humanitarian organizations.
“The wounded have been evacuated to University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, Maiduguri and they are in stable condition.
“The Nigerian Army wishes to sympathize with our wounded colleagues, the United Nations and other Non-governmental organizations whose personnel were also injured in this sad incident.
“We wish to reiterate our determination and commitment to ensuring safety and security in the North East and safeguarding the lives of all persons.
In another development, the Army said early today that Multi-National Joint Taskforce (MNJTF), has finally captured and occupied Damasak town.
Damasak is a boundary town between Nigeria and Niger Republic and is located in Northern Borno. It is one of the last frontiers of Boko Haram terrorists.
A statement signed by Public Information Officer and spokesperson of MNJTF, Colonel Muhammad Dole, said that the troops have also cleared the terrorists from the surrounding villages
“In continuation with clearance operation of the towns and villages by MNJTF, the troops of the Sector 4 in Diffa Niger Republic have successfully cleared Sure village, captured and occupied Damasak town today by 1000hrs.
“The forces are coordinating to stabilize the immediate environs. The gallant troops fought their way into the town with Close Air support by combined Air Operation from MNJTF member states.”
He added that: “While Operation Lafiya Dole is conducting operation to link up with Sector 4 at the location, the troops’ morale remains very high.”
The Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) is the combined multinational formation, comprising units, mostly military, from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria. It is headquartered in N’Djamena, Chad and is mandated to bring an end to the Boko Haram insurgency.