The Afghan Taliban rescinded a months-long ban on the International Committee for Red Cross (ICRC) working in areas under their control Sunday and restored security guarantees for those working for the organisation.
The militants and the ICRC “consented to following the old agreement on top of new promises in humanitarian aid leading to the Islamic Emirate granting ICRC permission of resuming their activities,” said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement.
Taliban fighters were instructed to “pave the way for ICRC activities and be mindful of security to this committee’s workers and equipment,” it added.
“We welcome the acknowledgment of our humanitarian principles and renewal of security guarantees to enable us (to) work in #Afghanistan in favour of people affected by the armed conflict,” Schaerer Juan-Pedro, head of ICRC in Kabul said on Twitter.
In April the insurgents banned both the ICRC and World Health Organization (WHO) from carrying out relief activities in areas under their control and revoked security guarantees.
The Taliban did not mention the WHO in the announcement, which it said came following talks with ICRC in Doha.
In August last year, the Taliban temporarily withdrew safety guarantees for the ICRC, accusing the international group of failing to meet its mission obligations to monitor detention conditions in Afghan jails and provide medical aid to Taliban prisoners.
As fears of increased violence soar with presidential elections approaching later this month, Afghan troops and Taliban insurgents have been engaged in heavy exchanges across Afghanistan, with several militant-controlled districts in the far north falling to government forces.
The Taliban continue to strike Afghan installations at will after the militants issued their own vow to continue fighting after US President Donald Trump abruptly cancelled negotiations that aimed to pave the way for an American withdrawal from Afghanistan following 18 years of war.
While Maurer promised that the Red Cross will continue to support humanitarian services and the effort to reunite families, he also stated that he is encouraged by the positive response of the federal government.
On the release of Leah Sharibu and other abductees still in captivity, the ICRC boss said the agency will continue to keep communications channels open between all parties involved and work towards their release.
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary congratulated the Resident Electoral Commissioner on his appointment and asked him to ensure his best.
“I am glad that we are finally closing this chapter,” said Senator Ekweremadu who added, “This is very crucial at this point and if there are any issues regarding neutrality or independence, it is important that it is handled now as we are approaching the elections.”
“All the Commissioners must do their best to ensure that we have a credible election. I just want to appeal that all parties involved allow this to go on smoothly and let them do their jobs.”
The Deputy Senate President also thanked Senator Nazif and members of the committee for doing a good job.
Similarly, Mr Chidi Izuwah was confirmed as Director-General of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC).
Mr Izuwah’s appointment was confirmed after the lawmakers considered the report of the Senate Committee on Works presented by Senator Kabiru Gaya (Kano South).
In his remarks, Senator Ekweremadu was hopeful that with the “deficit of infrastructure” in the country, the nomination would go a long way in ensuring that certain issues were addressed.
”We hope that this Commission lives up to our expectations. I wish him (Izuwah) the best and I wish him success,” he said.
As the world reacts with outrage to the killing of a second aid worker, Hauwa Liman, by a faction of Boko Haram, her distraught family are holding out hope that she might still be alive.
Hauwa who works with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was killed by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), the Nigerian government confirmed on Monday in a statement condemning the act.
Her father Mohammed Liman says the heart-breaking news, barely a month after another aid worker – Saifura Ahmed – who was abducted with her in March was killed, is hard to believe.
“We feel so bad and we are in doubt if she is dead or alive because we didn’t expect her to be killed so suddenly,” Liman told Channels Television at the family home in Maiduguri, Borno State.
The family had expected that the insurgents would give the government time to meet their demands. And although the government, ICRC and many others across the globe have condemned the murder, her family remains in doubt that she is dead.
“In fact, we are in doubt because, unless we see her corpse or any evidence that shows she is dead, we still believe that she is living. She is living,” her father insisted with her mom and other women in the home breaking down in tears intermittently.
‘Not A Warring Party’
Struggling to keep his emotions in check, Liman appealed to the insurgents to understand that Hauwa was not a warring party and should not have been made to face the ordeal she faced.
“I appeal to the insurgents to release her because she is not a warring party. She is a humanitarian worker. She treats the young and the women and she is so helpful, even to them; not only to the whole society – even to them,” he said.
As many across the world struggle to make sense on the ever-more brutal approach adopted by the terrorists that have ravaged Nigeria’s northeast, Hauwa’s family wants the government to help them get closure.
“We appeal to the government, if she was dead at all, we want the corpse to be brought and we bury her. That will give us peace of mind. Otherwise, we will never forget such an incident in our lives,” her dad pleaded.
Hauwa’s mother, Iyakachi, like her dad, is struggling to make sense of the nightmare she has had to endure.
Despite repeatedly break in down in tears before speaking to Channels Television, she remains hopeful.
Speaking in Hausa, she explained that she did not expect that it would come to this.
She said, “Up to this moment my mind has not told me that my daughter is dead. Because if you see what happened, these people want money. Now after Buhari agreed that he’d give the money, why is the gap between when he gave his consent and when this incidence happened so close?
“If a person wants money and they agreed to give him the money is he supposed to do this? Another thing is they (Hauwa and her colleagues) are humanitarian workers and are not supposed to be killed, and they are women. Why were they killed? And the ICRC had already pleaded with them to spare their staff and they even rendered them help as humanitarian workers. If this truly happened then it’s wrong. And, me, I strongly believe, that my daughter is not dead.”
Based on her belief about her daughter’s fate, she also called on the government to act.
“The government should investigate; if this girl is still alive, they should just bring her back. I don’t need anything except my child. If they can try and confirm that my daughter is well and alive, they should bring her back; that’s all,” she said.
Months In Captivity
Hauwa and two other aid workers – Alice Loksha and Saifura Ahmed Khorsa – were abducted by ISWAP on March 1, 2018.
While Hauwa and Saifura functioned as health workers with the ICRC, Alice worked with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).
They were captured from Rann, a small town in Borno where thousands of internally displaced persons live in an IDP camp.
The raid that led to their abduction was a bloody one with three other female aid workers and some soldiers killed.
Two of the aid workers killed in the attack were contractors with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), working as coordinators in the camp believed to contain up to 55,000 IDPs who fled their homes because of the Boko Haram insurgency.
Despite global condemnation of the attack by ISWAP, which had earlier in the year shocked the world by abducting more than 100 schoolgirls from a secondary school in Dapchi, Yobe State, the Boko Haram faction refused to release the three aid workers it abducted.
It is also still holding Leah Sharibu, the only Christian among the abducted schoolgirls, reportedly for refusing to renounce her faith.
In August, United Nations called for the release of the abducted workers.
In calling for the release of the aid workers, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria Edward Kallon urged Nigerian leaders “to do everything in their power to protect the people caught up in conflict”.
Despite the calls for the release of the workers, they remained in captivity.
Any hope that all three abducted workers would return to their family alive was shattered a month later when the terrorists killed 25-year-old Saifura.
In executing Saifura, the Boko Haram faction threatened to kill another aid worker in a month if the Federal Government does not meet their demands and continues to ignore them, TheCable which saw a video of the execution reported on September 17.
The group had also threated that Sharibu could suffer the same fate.
“We contacted the government through writing and also sent audio messages but the government has ignored us. So, here is a message of blood,” said a spokesman of the group had been quoted as saying.
As the one-month deadline approached, on Sunday, the ICRC had made an urgent appeal to the Nigeria Government and communities and individuals with influence to secure the release of two other abducted health workers.
“A deadline that could result in the killing of another health care worker is less than 24 hours away,” the ICRC said in a statement, adding, “Speed and urgency are critical.”
Also in the statement, ICRC’s head of operations in the Lake Chad region, Mamadou Sow, begged ISWAP to show mercy and spare the lives of the aid workers who were “doing nothing but helping the communities in northeast Nigeria”.
The plea fell on deaf ears, with the insurgents once again sparking outrage and global condemnation by executing Hauwa.
The UN, Amnesty International, Nigerian Government, and the ICRC are among those that have condemned the execution of the workers.
Reacting to the execution on Monday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said, “It is very unfortunate that it has come to this.
“Before and after the deadline issued by her abductors, the Federal Government did everything any responsible government should do to save the aid worker.”
Mohammed added, “As we have been doing since these young women were abducted, we kept the line of negotiations open, all through. In all the negotiations, we acted in the best interest of the women and the country as a whole.
“We are deeply pained by this killing, just like we were by the recent killing of the first aid worker. However, we will keep the negotiations open and continue to work to free the innocent women who remain in the custody of their abductors.”
For the ICRC the execution of two of its aid workers has been devastating, and nothing can justify their murder.
“The news of Hauwa’s death has broken our hearts,” ICRC’s Regional Director for Africa, Patricia Danzi, said.
“We appealed for mercy and an end to such senseless murders. How can it be that two female health care workers were killed back-to-back? Nothing can justify this.”
She appealed for the release of Alice and Leah who remain in captivity with their fate hanging in the balance.
“Hauwa and Saifura’s deaths are not only a tragedy for their families, but they will also be felt by thousands of people in Rann and other conflict-affected areas of north-east Nigeria where accessing health care remains a challenge. We urge the group holding Alice and Leah to release them safely,” Danzi said.
The Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaign group is currently protesting in Abuja following the killing of another aid worker, Hauwa Liman, by Boko Haram insurgents on Monday.
In a statement by its spokesperson, Nifemi Onifade, issued on Monday, the group said it was deeply saddened by the news of her death, despite several appeals to the government to take action to secure the release of all those in captivity.
The statement read, “It is with deep sadness that we receive the regrettable news of Hauwa Liman, today on the 15th of October, 2018. Hauwa was a humanitarian aid worker, working with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) at the time of her abduction with her colleagues, Saifura Ahmed and Alice Ngadahh – whom we now collectively refer to as the #RannWomen.
“The news we have received suggests that she was killed in a similar manner as Saifura was, about a month ago, following a threat by the terrorists to do so.
“We had been monitoring the situation since their abduction 228 days ago. We have since made numerous demands to the government, asking for actions that will ensure their safe return during a number of marches and as contained in our letter to the President earlier today”.
The group, therefore, said it is embarking on the protest to make more demands to the Federal Government to ensure that the remaining captives including Leah Sharibu, (the only one out of the 110 girls abducted at the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State), are released safely.
“For Alice Ngaddah, Leah Sharibu, our 112 #ChibokGirls and others in captivity, it is not too late.
“We will go ahead with a planned protest to the Presidency tomorrow to carry our increased demand to the Federal Government, led by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We ask that members of the public join us (tomorrow October 16) as we set off from the Unity Fountain at 9:00 am.
“We also ask for prayers for Hauwa’s family, her colleagues and others in captivity,” the statement read.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has condemned the killing of another aid worker by a faction of the Boko Haram terrorist group, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).
In a tweet on Monday, the ICRC wrote, “We are hearing devastating reports Hauwa has been executed.
“At this stage, we don’t have confirmation this is true. We desperately hope not. We will provide an update when we have accurate information. This situation is heartbreaking, and our thoughts remain with her family”.
Human rights organization, Amnesty International also expressed sadness over the killing.
They commiserated with the family of the deceased and also called on the insurgents to immediately release remaining health workers, Leah Sharibu and all other civilians held hostage
It said, “Amnesty International is deeply concerned about yet another horrific execution of a health worker by Boko Haram one month after threatening to do so.
“Boko Haram has once again proven its brazen disregard for the sanctity of life which must not go unpunished.
“Under the International Humanitarian Law, aid workers must be protected from attack and must not under any circumstance be targeted.
“On a day like this, our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the deceased. We reiterate our call that; Boko Haram must immediately release remaining health workers, Leah Sharibu and all other civilians held hostage”.
Earlier, the Federal Government also reacted to the killing, describing it as dastardly, inhuman and ungodly.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, said the government is shocked and saddened the incident, despite the actions taken by the government and the widespread appeal to save the young woman.
The terrorists killed Hauwa Liman after a deadline they gave to the Federal Government to meet their demands expired, online news organisation, TheCable reported on Monday.
A faction of Boko Haram, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), has executed another aid worker with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), abducted in March this year.
The terrorists killed Hauwa Liman after a deadline they gave to the Federal Government to meet their demands expired, online news organisation, TheCable reported on Monday.
The online platform, which said its correspondent saw a clip of the execution, quoted ISWAP as saying, “We have kept our word exactly as we said, by killing another humanitarian worker, Hauwa Liman, who is working with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that were abducted during a raid on a military facility in Rann, Kala Balge in March 2018.
“Saifura and Hauwa were killed because they are considered as Murtads (apostates) by the group because they were once Muslims that have abandoned their Islam, the moment they chose to work with the Red Cross, and for us, there is no difference between Red Cross and UNICEF.”
The Federal Government has condemned the killing which comes less than a month after the terrorists murdered another aid worker – Saifura Ahmed – who was abducted along with Hauwa and another of their colleagues.
In a statement issued in London on Monday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, described the killing as dastardly, inhuman and ungodly.
According to him, the government is shocked and saddened at the killing of the aid worker by the insurgents, despite the actions taken by the government and the widespread appeal to save the young woman.
“It is very unfortunate that it has come to this,” he decried. “Before and after the deadline issued by her abductors, the Federal Government did everything any responsible government should do to save the aid worker.”
Mr Mohammed added, “As we have been doing since these young women were abducted, we kept the line of negotiations open all through. In all the negotiations, we acted in the best interest of the women and the country as a whole.”
”We are deeply pained by this killing, just like we were by the recent killing of the first aid worker. However, we will keep the negotiations open and continue to work to free the innocent women who remain in the custody of their abductors.”
The minister commiserated with the family of the slain aid worker, saying the government did all within its powers to save her life.
He also thanked all the friendly governments that have continued to work with Nigeria for the safe release of the abducted women, as well as the clerics across religious lines who have been pleading for their release.
The killing of the aid worker comes a day after the ICRC made an appeal to the Nigerian government to help secure the release of both aid workers in captivity along with Leah Sharibu before the deadline expires.
Meanwhile, the insurgents have threatened to enslave Leah and the remaining aid worker, Alice Ngaddah, a Christian who works with UNICEF, according to TheCable.
Leah is the only one out of the 110 girls abducted at the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State, on February 19, 2018, who is still in captivity.
She was held back by the terrorists for refusing to renounce her faith.
The Red Cross on Sunday appealed to Nigeria Government and to communities and individuals with influence to secure the release of two abducted health workers, as a deadline set by Boko Haram to kill them approached.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) spoke out a month after another hostage kidnapped with them was executed by the jihadists.
“A deadline that could result in the killing of another health care worker is less than 24 hours away,” said an ICRC statement.
“Speed and urgency are critical,” it added.
The three female health workers were kidnapped on March 1, in the remote town of Rann in Borno State following an attack by IS-affiliated Boko Haram faction.
The raid killed three other health workers and eight Nigerian soldiers.
Two of the kidnapped women, Hauwa Liman and Saifura Khorsa, worked for the Geneva-based humanitarian charity while the third, Alice Loksha, worked for the UN children’s organisation UNICEF.
There was no news of the trio until last month. Then the ICRC said it had received footage of Khorsa’s execution from the IS-supported Boko Haram faction — Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).
In the footage, ISWAP threatened to kill the other two health workers if their demands were not met.
“The ICRC asks all those involved with this case to avoid a repeat of that devastating outcome,” said Mamadou Sow, ICRC’s head of operations in the Lake Chad region.
The ICRC called on ISWAP to show “mercy” and not to kill two health workers who were “doing nothing but helping the communities in northeast Nigeria”.
“Hauwa and Alice are medical workers who chose to work and help vulnerable communities in Rann, an area heavily affected by violence,” Sow said.
The jihadists have increasingly turned to kidnapping for ransom as a way to finance their operations and win back key commanders in prisoner swaps with the Nigerian government.
Rann is a remote town on the border with Cameroon where over 60,0000 people who have fled from Boko Haram jihadists depend on emergency food and medical aid to survive.
The ICRC also called for the release of 15-year old Leah Sharibu who was among over 100 schoolgirls abducted by the Islamist group from a boarding school in Dapchi in February.
While her colleagues were released weeks after the abduction, Sharibu the only Christian among them, was held back for refusing to convert Islam.
“Leah Sharibu…is also being held by the same armed group and everything must be done to ensure she too is released promptly and unharmed,” said Patricia Danzi, ICRC’s Africa director of operations.
“We urge you: spare and release these women…like all those abducted, they are not part of any fight,” said Danzi.
President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to secure the release of the hostages.
A government delegation visited Sharibu’s parents on Friday and assured them of efforts to free their daughter.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has condemned what it described as the “tragic killing” of its colleague Saifura Hussaini Ahmed Khorsa, who was abducted by Boko Haram insurgents in March.
The head of the ICRC delegation in Abuja, Eloi Fillion, in a statement on Monday said, “We are devastated by the murder of our colleague Saifura,”.
“Saifura moved to Rann to selflessly help those in need. Our thoughts are with her family and other loved ones at this incredibly difficult time.”
The agency also appealed to the armed group to immediately release the second ICRC midwife and another health-care worker who were also abducted in March.
“We urge those still holding our colleague Hauwa and Alice: release these women. Like Saifura, they are not part of the fight. They are a midwife and a nurse. They are daughters, a wife, and a mother – women with families that depend on them,” said Fillion.
“Their families and friends miss them dearly and will not give up the hope of seeing them again soon. There is no ideology or religious law that could justify doing any harm to them,” she added.
Saifura, 25, was a devoted midwife and mother of two.
The ICRC, however, said it would not give details of her death or comment on the identity of the women’s abductors as well as their motives.
The agency said in the past six months of their abduction, it has made sustained and committed efforts to secure the release of all three workers.
It, however, said it will continue to do everything in its power to ensure that Hauwa and Alice are released and can return to their families immediately.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) operating in Borno State says it has provided free surgical care to 751 battle wounded patients in Maiduguri.
Giving succor to victims of Boko Haram attacks, the health organisation said this is in line with its mandate of caring for victims of war and violent situations.
ICRC which has also established a 40-bed center for pediatrics, male and female patients at the specialist hospital in Maiduguri to cater for survivors of bomb explosions and gunshots from different parts of Borno and Yobe states said the victims treated for free at the centre.
The Head of Sub delegation ICRC Maiduguri, Armin Mosimann speaking with Channels Television concerning the operations said it is extremely valuable.
“We had more than 100 operations only for victims of Konduga blast. We can prove that this is a very valuable programme for the victims,” Mosimann said.
Broken limbs, second degree injuries and internal wounds, are some cases treated at the ICRC centre
In 2017 alone, due to unprecedented number of injured persons during explosions, up to 66 wounded persons were treated as out patients. About 2,871 surgical operations have also been performed at the ICRC operation theater since it was established.
The ICRC has in place two surgical teams attending to the survivors of hit and run attacks around Borno state, evacuated to Maiduguri for treatment.
The ICRC Hospital Project Manager in Maiduguri, Issa Ahmed also explained that 5,491 blood donors have been screened at the blood bank.
He said other hospitals can also access the blood bank to save lives.
The ICRC surgical team has been conducting outreach activities screening IDPS living in host communities to ensure they have access to surgical care.
Eight minors displaced by the Boko Haram have been reunited with their families, now resident in displaced peoples’ camps in Borno State, years after being displaced.
The emotional reunion took place in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital on Friday, facilitated by the International Committee of the Red Cross, which is working with the affected population in the region.
As the kids deboarded the plane, their mothers who had waited patiently broke free of officials that were leading them towards the children, hugging them and crying for joy.
Investigations by the ICRC revealed that the kids left home nearly seven years ago and are members of six families from Bama Local Government Area of Borno State.
The LGA is one of the areas captured and held by Boko Haram terrorists at the height of their onslaught in the northeast Nigeria.
By the time Nigerian troops recaptured the area in 2015, hundreds of locals had been killed, maimed, abducted, or forced to flee.
The result is thousands of widowed women and households headed by children who have lost both parents to the violence.
As the insurgency raged, the minors were among those that were forced to flee. The took refuge in the Republic of Cameroun.
“It is the mandate of ICRC to assist families who are affected by armed conflicts, and restoring family links is one way in which ICRC assists people,” said Mr Peter Osodo of the ICRC.
“So, the families who are missing their loved ones come to ICRC or we go to where they are, especially in the camps.”
At the camps, ICRC officials register families that are missing members or who need to restore missing links after which they go in search of the missing members.
“When we find them, we find out if the children are ready to be unified with the parents and if the parents are ready to receive the children back,” Osodo said.
Fatima Abbas, the mother of two of the minors, said weeks of interviews and discussions with ICRC officials paid off, giving her reason to cheer after years of sorrow caused by the insurgency.
Her husband and the grandparents of the children lost their lives to the insurgency.
“I lost contact with my children seven years ago during the Boko Haram crisis. Their father and grandparents had also been killed. Red Cross helped us find them and I am so happy today,” she said.
Another mother, Amina Abba Tela, had not seen her son for more than five years.
“He was in school when we all dispersed but with the help of Red Cross, who spoke to us and took our pictures from both sides when the information we gave them matched,” Tela said. “I am so happy I could not even sleep last night.”
The Boko Haram insurgency led to the displacement of more than one million persons in northeast Nigeria. According to officials, unaccompanied children found in the host community and most IDP camps in Maiduguri are about 40,000.