After Boko Haram Ambush, U.N. Suspends Aid Missions To Northeastern Nigeria

Jul 29, 2016
Originally published on July 29, 2016 4:53 pm

The United Nations suspended food and relief aid to dangerous and hard-to-access areas in northeastern Nigeria, amid a catastrophic humanitarian crisis affecting half a million people. The move comes after Boko Haram ambushed a humanitarian convoy.

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The United Nations says it is suspending aid missions to hard-to-reach parts of north eastern Nigeria. This happened after Boko Haram extremists ambushed a humanitarian convoy. It makes an already catastrophic humanitarian crisis even worse. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports.

OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: The UN children's agency says two soldiers and three civilians, including a UNICEF staffer, were wounded in yesterday's ambush. The humanitarian convoy, escorted by the Nigerian military, was making its way from the newly liberated city of Bama, where thousands of people need emergency aid, to the regional capital Maiduguri. The army has blamed Boko Haram for the attack. Doune Porter is UNICEF's spokesperson in Nigeria.

DOUNE PORTER: For the people living in these newly accessible areas, this attack is catastrophic. They have had no access to humanitarian assistance until very, very recently. More people in Borno state still, because of security reasons, do not have access to humanitarian assistance. So they really are in very desperate conditions.

QUIST-ARCTON: The UN's decision to temporarily suspend humanitarian aid to remote parts of Borno, the state where Boko Haram was born, is a blow. Medical charity Doctors Without Borders has warned that severely malnourished children are dying and that many more are at risk. UNICEF's Doune Porter acknowledges the problem, especially for a quarter-of-a-million vulnerable children.

PORTER: Yes, of course. UNICEF, we estimate that, in the state are Borno as a whole, 244,000 will suffer this year from severe, acute malnutrition.

QUIST-ARCTON: The U.N. agency says 2 million more people need relief aid, and assistance will continue in Maiduguri, the northeastern metropolis. Nigeria's military says it is targeting Boko Haram hideouts with aerial bombardments and ground attacks. The army also claims it has defeated the extremists, yet the militants are still able to launch suicide attacks and ambush humanitarian convoys. Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR News, Lagos. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.