UN Rights Council Urges ‘Verifiable Withdrawal’ Of Eritrean Troops From Tigray

FILES Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

The UN Human Rights Council called Tuesday for an immediate end to all violations in Ethiopia’s conflict-torn Tigray region and for Eritrean troops to quickly withdraw in a verifiable manner.

The top UN rights body approved a resolution presented by the European Union, which hailed a unilateral ceasefire declared by Ethiopia last month and also its participation in a joint investigation into the Tigray situation.

But it voiced grave concern at reported widespread abuses in the region in recent months, including mass killings of civilians and rampant sexual violence.

In particular, it highlighted the reported participation of Eritrean troops in serious abuses there, including violations of international law, “exacerbating the conflict”.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed — who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for rapprochement with neighbouring Eritrea — sent the army into Tigray last November to oust the region’s once-dominant ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Abiy had accused them of orchestrating attacks on Ethiopian military bases in Tigray, an important economic and industrial region in the Horn of Africa nation.

After eight months of brutal conflict with federal troops, the Tigray Defence Forces last month swept across large parts of Tigray and seized the regional capital Mekele.

The months of fighting — marked by grisly massacres and widespread sexual violence — has killed thousands of people, while the United Nations says hundreds of thousands are on the brink of famine.

– Joint investigation –

Tuesday’s resolution, adopted with 20 of the rights council’s 47 members in favour, 14 opposing and 13 abstaining, called “for an immediate halt to all human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law.”

The text also called for “the swift and verifiable withdrawal of Eritrean troops from the Tigray region.”

Eritrean troops are accused of massacring civilians and forcing Eritrean refugees back across the border, according to rights groups during the eight-month conflict.

For months, both Ethiopia and Eritrea flatly denied the involvement of Eritrean forces in the conflict, but Abiy finally admitted their presence in March, and said they would withdraw.

Before the vote, Eritrea’s representative, Adem Osman Idris, slammed the resolution, insisting that his country’s troops had left the region.

Tuesday’s resolution was met with strong resistance from Eritrea, as well as China and Venezuela, which together presented 15 proposed amendments, which were all rejected.

Ethiopia also categorically rejected the text, saying it interfered with an ongoing investigation into the situation in Tigray.

READ ALSO: Thailand Defends COVID-19 Vaccine ‘Mix-And-Match’ After WHO Warning

The resolution did welcome Ethiopia’s decision to agree to the joint probe with the UN rights office, and urged the government to ensure the conditions needed for a “full, unhindered and independent investigation” and for attaining accountability for all violations.

Anita Pipan of Slovenia, who presented the resolution on behalf of the EU, insisted the intention was not to interfere with the probe, but said “for the process to be credible, transparency is needed.”

“Given the seriousness of the situation, the international community has the right to be kept informed.”

UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet told the council last month that the joint investigation had begun in mid-May was expected to conclude its work in August.

Tuesday’s resolution called on Bachelet’s office to provide the Ethiopian government with advice and technical assistance towards ensuring accountability.

It also called for her to present an oral update to the council during its next two sessions in September and March on progress made in the joint investigation.

AFP

UN Boosts Growth Forecast For Latin America, Warns It Is Not Enough

In this file photo, The United Nations flag is seen during the Climate Action Summit 2019 at the United Nations General Assembly Hall on September 23, 2019, in New York City. Ludovic MARIN / AFP.

 

Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean should register GDP growth of 5.2 percent on average in 2021, an improved forecast but not enough to offset coronavirus losses, a UN agency said Thursday.

The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) upped its April forecast of 4.1 percent for 2021, which comes on the back of a 6.8 percent contraction in 2020 as the region of 33 countries was ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This expansion, however, will not manage to ensure sustained growth, because the social impacts of the crisis and the structural problems in the region have deepened and will continue to do so during the recovery,” said an ECLAC report.

Projections for 2022 are for growth of 2.9 percent on average, “meaning a slowdown compared to the rebound in 2021,” said the agency.

“There is nothing to indicate that the low growth dynamic prior to 2020 is going to change,” it added.

Structural problems that held back growth prior to the pandemic have become more acute, said the ECLAC, and “this will have negative repercussions on the economic and labor market recovery despite the uptick in growth in 2021 and 2022.”

These problems include deep social inequality, low investment and lagging productivity.

In terms of per capita income, warned the report, “the region continues on a path toward a lost decade,” with the health crisis having worsened inequality and poverty.

ECLAC said the region had almost a third of the world’s coronavirus deaths despite representing just 8.4 percent of the global population, and most countries were lagging in vaccination efforts.

Poverty in the region now affects a third of people, and extreme poverty 12.5 percent.

In 2020, 44 million more people experienced food insecurity than the year before.

AFP

UN ‘Disturbed’ By Death In Jail Of Indian Priest

Priest and human rights activist was denied bail despite being weakened by Parkinson’s and Covid-19.

 

 

The United Nations said Tuesday it was deeply disturbed by the death in pre-trial detention of Father Stan Swamy, an 84-year-old Indian rights activist and Jesuit priest.

Swamy, who was detained for nine months without trial under Indian anti-terror laws, died on Monday ahead of a bail hearing.

The priest, who campaigned for marginalised tribal communities, was arrested last year for allegedly inciting violence between different Indian castes in 2018.

“We are deeply saddened and disturbed by the death of 84-year-old Father Stan Swamy,” Liz Throssell, a spokeswoman for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told reporters in Geneva.

Swamy was denied bail despite suffering from Parkinson’s disease and other ailments. He was admitted to hospital in May with coronavirus and suffered a cardiac arrest over the weekend.

The priest had been detained under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), which effectively allows people to be held without trial indefinitely.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has made use of the law to have campaigners, journalists, students and others arrested, in what critics say is an attempt to silence dissent.

“High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet and the UN’s independent experts have repeatedly raised the cases of Father Stan and 15 other human rights defenders associated with the same events with the government of India over the past three years, and urged their release from pre-trial detention,” said Throssell.

“The high commissioner has also raised concerns over the use of the UAPA in relation to human rights defenders — a law Father Stan was challenging before Indian courts days before he died.”

Throssell said that given the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, countries — India included — should release everyone detained without a sufficient legal basis, including those held simply for expressing dissenting views.

“We stress, once again, the high commissioner’s call on the government of India to ensure that no one is detained for exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of expression, of peaceful assembly and of association,” the spokeswoman said.

6 Troops Killed, 15 UN Peacekeepers Wounded In Separate Mali Attacks

In this file photo taken on September 8, 2008, an Argentinian peacekeeper stands as a helicopter takes off from the flooded city of Gonaives some 200 kilometres north of Port-au-Prince. The UN Security Council ended 15 years of peacekeeping operations in Haiti on October 15, 2019, voicing regret that the country is still saddled with huge economic, political and social woes. The UN first sent peacekeepers to Haiti after then president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was

 

 

Six Malian soldiers were killed on Friday in a raid in the centre of the war-torn Sahel state, in a violent day that also saw 15 United Nations peacekeepers wounded in a car-bomb attack further north. 

The UN said on Twitter that an evacuation was under way after a car bomb struck a temporary base near Tarkint, in the lawless north of Mali.

German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said 12 of the peacekeepers were German and that three were seriously injured.

Two of the three were in a stable condition, she said in a statement, while one has undergone surgery. All of the wounded have been evacuated by helicopter, Kramp-Karrenbauer added.

One Belgian soldier was also injured in the attack, according to a Belgian defence ministry statement.

About 13,000 troops from several nations are deployed in the UN’s MINUSMA peacekeeping mission across the vast semi-arid country.

Mali is struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency that erupted in 2012 and which has claimed thousands of military and civilian lives.

Despite the presence of thousands of French and UN troops, the conflict has engulfed the centre of the country and spread to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

A security official, who declined to be identified, told AFP that the MINUSMA forward operating base attacked on Friday was only set up the previous day, after a land mine damaged a UN vehicle in the area.

The peacekeepers set up the base in order to remove the damaged vehicle, the security official said.

Separately on Friday, militants also attacked a Malian military outpost in the village of Boni in the centre of the country, killing six soldiers and injuring another.

Mali’s army stated on Twitter that the troops had “vigorously responded” to “simultaneous attacks” launched in Boni in the afternoon.

Ten Malian soldiers had been killed in a similar ambush in Boni in February.

Central Mali — which is the epicentre of the conflict in the Sahel — also saw six French soldiers and four civilians wounded on Monday when a car bomb detonated near a French armoured car.

Former colonial power France, which intervened in Mali in 2013 to beat back the jihadists, currently has 5,100 soldiers deployed across the Sahel region.

But French President Emmanuel Macron announced earlier this month that he would wind down the Barkhane force.

France plans to refocus its energies on strengthening an international task force of special forces in Mali, known as Takuba.

Several hundred people gathered in Mali’s capital Bamako on Friday to demand the departure of French forces from the country, an AFP journalist reported.

UN Officials, INGOs Diverting Donor Funds, Says Zulum

 

Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State has accused the United Nations and other international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) of diverting and mismanaging funds donated for displaced people in the northeastern region of the country. 

Zulum shared his thoughts at the Borno State Government House on Wednesday when the UN Humanitarian Coordinator Edward Kallon led ambassadors of donor countries to Borno.

The UN delegation paid a courtesy call on Governor Zulum after interacting with the internally displaced in temporary shelters within Maiduguri.

At the meeting, Zulum expressed his displeasure at the UN’s handling of funds donated for humanitarian assistance.

READ ALSO: Borno Commissioner Queries College Provost For Suspending Students Over Buhari’s Welcome

A file photo of Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum. Photo: [email protected]

 

According to the governor, some UN officials may be feeding fat on the misfortune of the affected population, insisting that the Unilateral spending style of donations must be investigated.

“You may announce some heavy donations, but if this money is left unchecked, believe me sincerely 30 per cent of this funding will not go to the target population,” the governor stated.

UN data suggests that the Boko haram conflict has led to one of the largest humanitarian crisis in the world.

This year alone there are at least 8.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance out of which no fewer than 4.4 million are expected to need food assistance in the current lean season.

The US ambassador, Mary Leonard, and her UK counterpart, Catriona Laing, met with major ‘stakeholders’ in the humanitarian services in Borno on the humanitarian and development priorities in northeast Nigeria.

This visit is a sequel to the UN’s request for donations to address the humanitarian crisis in North-East Nigeria, during the latest G7 meeting.

Prior to visiting Governor Zulum at the State House, the two top diplomats visited IDP camps, the military and some of the humanitarian offices. They were led by the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon.

The prolonged unrest within the northeast has affected the Lake Chad Region, including neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Niger and Chad for over 10 years.

Leaked UN Climate Report A Call To ‘Act’

Photograph taken of a UN flag. –  (Photo by HAZEM BADER / AFP)

 

 

 

Grave warnings of the myriad threats to the planet in a draft UN climate report reinforce the message that “we need to act right now”, said Greta Thunberg, in response to AFP’s exclusive on Wednesday.

The draft by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) lays out in relentless detail the potential dangers ahead for species, ecosystems and humanity.

It is not scheduled for public release until February 2022 — after crunch UN summits this year on climate, biodiversity and food systems.

Here are some of the reactions to the report:

– ‘Face reality’ –
“It confirms what we already knew, that this situation is very dire and that we need to act right now,” Thunberg told AFP.

But the Swedish activist, who spearheaded the “Fridays for Future” movement, added she found it hopeful that “many people are becoming more and more ready to tell it like it is”.

“We can of course not face this crisis unless… we are adult enough to tell the truth, and to face the reality,” Thunberg said.

“The worst thing is that when people don’t want to talk about the climate crisis… they try to smooth things over. Try to make it sound more attractive,” she said.

It was important to ensure the message is not “that things will be fine, ‘don’t worry’… when that in fact is not true.”

– Too soon –
In response to AFP’s reporting, the IPCC released a statement saying it “does not comment on the contents of draft reports while work is still ongoing”.

The IPCC explained that the reviewing process involving researchers and “practitioners across a broad range of expertise” was still in progress.

It said this was “designed to ensure that the report is as accurate, comprehensive and objective as possible”.

– ‘After the polar bear’ –
“Climate change isn’t just one more priority on our already over-crowded list,” said Katherine Hayhoe, a prominent climate scientist at Texas Tech University and chief scientist at Nature Conservancy.

“It is a threat multiplier that affects every single other priority already on it, from the air we breathe to the food we eat.”

“Climate change matters: because after the polar bear, we’re next.”

In a Twitter thread on the draft, she stressed that it is pulled together largely from published scientific studies.

“They just hadn’t been pulled together into one overwhelming list,” she said.

Hayhoe notes that previous major climate reports tended to underplay the severity of the threats.

“This tendency to understatement in past reports has been so marked that they even coined a term for it: ‘erring on the side of least drama’ or ESLD,” she said.

– ‘Serious mistake’ –
Respected climate scientist Francois Gemenne, who leads the Hugo Observatory and is an author on the IPPC report, stressed that the draft seen by AFP will undergo revisions before it is finalised and may even include extra sections.

“This is not the version that will be adopted in February 2022”, he said on Twitter.

He added that it would be a “serious mistake” to imagine that any focus on the “key messages” was useful.

“Disclosure of results prior to the outcome of this process undermines the credibility of the work of the IPCC as a whole,” Gemenne said.

UN Warns Of Worst ‘Cascade Of Human Rights Setbacks In Our Lifetimes’

In this file photo, The United Nations flag is seen during the Climate Action Summit 2019 at the United Nations General Assembly Hall on September 23, 2019, in New York City. Ludovic MARIN / AFP.

 

The UN rights chief on Monday called for concerted action to recover from the worst global deterioration of rights she had seen, highlighting the situation in China, Russia and Ethiopia among others.

“To recover from the most wide-reaching and severe cascade of human rights setbacks in our lifetimes, we need a life-changing vision, and concerted action,” Michelle Bachelet told the opening of the UN Human Rights Council’s 47th session.

The session, which lasts until July 13 and is being held virtually due to continued Covid-19 restrictions, is set to feature an eagerly anticipated report by Bachelet about systemic racism, and draft resolutions focused on several concerning rights situations, including in Myanmar, Belarus and Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region.

– ‘Executions, sexual violence’ –

In her opening address, Bachelet said she was deeply disturbed by reports of “serious violations” in Tigray, racked by war and with about 350,000 people threatened by famine.

She pointed to “extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests and detentions, sexual violence against children as well as adults,” and said she had “credible reports” that Eritrean soldiers were still operating in the region.

Other parts of Ethiopia, which was holding elections on Monday, were also seeing “alarming incidents of deadly ethnic and inter-communal violence and displacement,” Bachelet said.

“The ongoing deployment of military forces is not a durable solution,” she said, calling for national dialogue.

Bachelet also decried the situation in northern Mozambique, ravaged by recent deadly jihadist violence, where she said food insecurity was rising and “almost 800,000 people, including 364,000 children” had now been forced to flee their homes.

– ‘Chilling impact’ –

The UN rights chief also pointed to the “chilling impact” of a sweeping national security law introduced in Hong Kong.

The law, which took effect on the eve of July 1, 2020, is seen as the spear tip of a sweeping crackdown on Beijing’s critics in the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong following 2019’s huge democracy protests.

It has criminalised much dissent, given China jurisdiction over some cases and awarded authorities a suite of powerful new investigative powers.

Bachelet warned that “107 people have been arrested under the National Security Law and 57 have been formally charged”.

She also pointed to “reports of serious human rights violations” in China’s Xinjiang region, and said she hoped Beijing would grant her a long-discussed visit there, including “meaningful access” this year.

The UN rights chief has been facing swelling diplomatic pressure to speak out more forcefully about China’s policies in the northwestern region, where the United States has accused Beijing of committing genocide and crimes against humanity against the Uyghurs.

At least one million Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities have been held in camps in the region, according to rights groups who also accuse authorities of imposing forced labour — allegations Beijing vehemently denies.

Dozens of countries, led by Canada, are expected to deliver a joint statement to the council on Tuesday, which will reportedly voice concern about the rights situation in Xinjiang and demand China grant Bachelet and other independent observers unfettered access.

In anticipation of that statement, the Chinese mission in Geneva last week slammed the group for its efforts “to spread disinformation and lies to frame China,” and use “human rights as a political tool.”

– Kremlin undermining critical voices –

In her address Monday, the UN rights chief also criticised recent measures by the Kremlin shrinking the space for opposing political views and access to participation in September elections.

She highlighted the recent moves to dismantle the movement of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Barring his organisations from working in the country, a Moscow court earlier this month branded them as “extremist”, in a ruling Bachelet said was “based on vaguely defined allegations of attempting to change the foundations of constitutional order.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has meanwhile signed legislation outlawing staff, members and sponsors of “extremist” groups from running in parliamentary elections.

“I call on Russia to uphold civil and political rights,” Bachelet said, also urging the authorities “to end the arbitrary practice of labelling ordinary individuals, journalists, and non-governmental organisations as ‘extremists’, ‘foreign agents’ or ‘undesirable organisations’.”

AFP

Thousands Fled After Burkina Faso Massacre – UN

In this file photo, The United Nations flag is seen during the Climate Action Summit 2019 at the United Nations General Assembly Hall on September 23, 2019, in New York City. Ludovic MARIN / AFP.

 

More than 3,300 people, most of them children, fled their homes in Burkina Faso’s volatile north following the country’s worst massacre in years, the United Nations said Tuesday.

The UN refugee agency said thousands of children were among those who fled Solhan village, near the border with Niger and Mali, after gunmen stormed in on Saturday, massacring civilians.

UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch said at least 138 men, women and children had been “executed” in the attack, while nearly 40 people were seriously injured.

Local sources have put the number of dead at at least 160, marking the deadliest attack since Islamist violence erupted in the West African country in 2015.

The slaughter in the early hours of Saturday followed the slaying of 14 people late Friday in the village of Tadaryat in the same region, where jihadists linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group have been targeting civilians and soldiers.

“Fearing for their lives, over 3,300 people fled to the nearby villages of Sebba and Sampelga, among them more than 2,000 children and over 500 women,” Baloch told journalists in Geneva.

“They arrived with few or no belongings,” he said, adding that most “were generously welcomed by local families who are sharing what little they have.”

Baloch said that the new arrivals urgently needed water, sanitation, shelter, plus essential aid items and medical care.

UNHCR and its partners were building 200 shelters and providing assistance, but said more resources were needed to scale up the response.

Baloch said that the massacre came just a few weeks after gunmen shot at UNHCR and other aid organisation vehicles on the road between the city of Dori and the Goudoubo camp, housing some 12,200 Malian refugees and asylum seekers.

While no-one was injured in that attack, he warned that “growing insecurity and the presence of armed groups in several regions of Burkina Faso increasingly hamper the delivery of aid and protection for those in need.”

UNHCR, he said, “calls for concerted action to reinforce the protection of civilians and reminds all parties that humanitarian organisations are carrying out life-saving interventions in an independent and impartial manner.”

Since 2015, Burkina Faso has struggled to fight back against increasingly frequent and deadly jihadist attacks from groups including the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS).

The attacks, which have claimed at least 1,400 lives, first started in the north near the Mali border, but have since spread to other regions, particularly in the east.

Since 2019, violence in the country has forced more than 1.2 million people to flee their homes, according to UNHCR numbers.

Just since the start of this year, some 150,000 people have become internally displaced in the country, Baloch said, adding that 84 percent of them were women and children.

AFP

UN Hails Israel’s Decision To Open Crossing For Aid Into Gaza

In this file photo, The United Nations flag is seen during the Climate Action Summit 2019 at the United Nations General Assembly Hall on September 23, 2019, in New York City. Ludovic MARIN / AFP.

 

The United Nations on Tuesday welcomed an Israeli decision to open the Kerem Shalom crossing to allow aid into Gaza, and urged the opening of a second location to let in humanitarian workers.

Humanitarian aid is urgently needed in the Gaza Strip after over a week of air strikes that have killed more than 200 Palestinians there.

“We very much welcome the Israeli authorities’ opening of Kerem Shalom crossing for essential humanitarian supplies,” Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the UN humanitarian agency OCHA, told reporters in Geneva.

He added that it was now “critical” that a separate crossing, Erez, also open “for the entry and exit of critical humanitarian staff”.

Going forward, he said, “humanitarian access into and out of Gaza for staff and goods must be sustained and appropriate measures taken to continue movements within Gaza.”

Israel launched its air campaign on the Gaza Strip on May 10 after the enclave’s rulers, the Islamist group Hamas, fired rockets in response to unrest in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

In total, Israeli air strikes have killed 212 Palestinians, including 61 children, in Gaza — whilst rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups have killed 10 people in Israel, including a child, according to officials on both sides.

The conflict risks precipitating a humanitarian disaster, with the UN saying some 47,000 Palestinians have been displaced, while more than 130 residential and commercial buildings in the enclave have been destroyed.

AFP

120 Ethiopia Ex-Peacekeepers Seek Asylum In Sudan, Says UN

In this file photo, The United Nations flag is seen during the Climate Action Summit 2019 at the United Nations General Assembly Hall on September 23, 2019, in New York City. Ludovic MARIN / AFP.

 

Around 120 former peacekeepers from Ethiopia, where several regions including northern Tigray are hit by inter-ethnic conflict, have sought asylum in Sudan, the United Nations said Sunday.

The personnel were due to be repatriated on the back of the phased withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping mission, UNAMID, from western Sudan’s Darfur region after its mandate ended on December 31.

“As of now, 120 former UNAMID peacekeepers who were due to be repatriated have sought international protection,” a UN peacekeeping spokesperson told AFP via email.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, also confirmed the former peacekeepers have applied for asylum in Sudan.

They “will be taken to a location where they can be safely undertaken for their refugee status to be determined,” it said without elaborating, due to “protection purposes”.

It was not immediately clear whether all the former peacekeepers seeking asylum originated from Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 Claims Two India Olympic Gold Medalists On Same Day

The Tigray conflict broke out last November between Ethiopia’s federal forces and leaders of the region’s ruling party, leaving thousands killed.

The fighting sent some 60,000 refugees fleeing into neighbouring Sudan, a nation struggling with economic woes and a rocky transition since the April 2019 ouster of strongman Omar al-Bashir.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, is also grappling with ethnic violence in other regions including Amhara, Oromia and Benishangul-Gumuz.

UNAMID, deployed in Darfur since 2007, in January began a phased withdrawal of its about 8,000 armed and civilian personnel, to be completed within six months.

Darfur was the scene of a bitter conflict between ethnic African minority rebels, complaining of marginalisation, against Bashir’s Arab-dominated government in Khartoum.

The fighting killed some 300,000 people and displaced 2.5 million, according to the UN.

AFP

10 Confirmed Killed In Boko Haram’s Latest Attack On Damasak

 

Ten civilians have been confirmed killed in Tuesday night’s attack on Damasak, the headquarters of the Mobbar Local Government of Borno State.

This is according to the Chairman of the local government, Mustapha Bako Kolo.

An unspecified number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) were also injured during the attack, according to Kolo.

Although sources say fighters of the Islamic State West Africa Province met stiff resistance from the Nigerian Army who were supported by the Airforce, the encounter left many civilians injured.

According to sources, the terror group stormed the area in over a dozen gun trucks and could be seen heading towards the Army base in Damasak, as residents were forced to flee for safety.

Last night’s attack on Damasak is the second within the week.

The insurgents had shared a video of their weekend attack on Damasak town during which they burnt UN buildings and food storehouses.

As of the time of filing this report, an official statement from the military was yet to be released.

READ ALSO: Damasak Attack: Civilians, Aid Workers Should Not Be Targets For Terrorists – UN

Nigeria’s military has struggled to end a jihadist insurgency in the northeast for more than a decade, with two million people displaced from the homes by fighting.

The latest attack prompted residents to flee towards the border.

“The locals are currently relocating to Niger Republic due to state of insecurity in the town,” said the military officer, who asked not to be identified.

Many residents had fled the town towards the regional capital Maiduguri or into the town of Diffa across the Niger border following three previous attacks, but other residents decided to stay back.

On Wednesday, residents who remained left the town across the border when militants in several trucks fitted with machine guns engaged troops in a fight outside the military base in an attempt to overrun it.

“This is the situation we found ourselves again, as you can see now we are going to take refuge in another country that is not even our own,” a resident said in a video clip sent to AFP by sources.

In the recording, hundreds of residents are seen on foot and on donkeys moving along a winding bush path with personal effects.

Jihadist warning

The fleeing residents wanted to seek refuge in nearby Gamari village across the border but were told that the jihadists had warned the villagers not to host anyone from Damasak.

“The insurgents went to Gamari last night (Tuesday) and gathered the people and warned them not to accept any humanitarian aid from NGOs and not to accommodate anyone from Damasak,” said another Damasak resident.

“The only option left to us is to go to Diffa where most of our kinsmen fled to in the past two days,” the resident said.

Meanwhile, fighting between the jihadists and troops was continuing around the base, said the resident and the military officer.

The insurgents had attacked the town on Saturday and Tuesday, causing the destruction of humanitarian facilities and at least four deaths, including a soldier.

Late on Tuesday, the jihadists stormed Damasak, burning a divisional police station after a failed attempt to raid the base, residents and military sources said.

Damasak has repeatedly been targeted by ISWAP militants who have made several failed attempts to overrun a military outpost outside the town.

ISWAP, which split from the jihadist group Boko Haram in 2016, has become a dominant threat in Nigeria, attacking soldiers and bases while killing and kidnapping passengers at fake checkpoints.

Nigeria’s 12-year-old jihadist conflict has killed 36,000 people and forced around two million more to flee their homes to escape fighting.

Terrorists Attack United Nations Hub In Borno

Borno is situated in northeast Nigeria.
A map of Borno, a state in north-east Nigeria.

 

Islamic State-linked jihadists in Nigeria attacked humanitarian facilities in the restive northeastern town of Damasak, aid workers told AFP on Saturday.

The attack, ongoing late on Saturday, is the second in two months affecting one of the United Nations nine hubs in the country.

Fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) stormed Damasak, in Borno state, setting fire to facilities of international aid organisations.

“ISWAP fighters are still inside Damasak, moving on the streets, firing guns and setting humanitarian facilities on fire,” said an aid worker who asked not to be identified.

The UN hub was gutted after fire set on the nearby office of an international charity spread to the UN facility, said a second aid worker.

The offices of three other international NGOs were also burnt by the insurgents who took over the town, the second aid worker added.

Ongoing fire burning in the vicinity of an NGO warehouse has escalated into humanitarian hub facilities, read a UN memo seen by AFP.

A military source confirmed the Saturday attack on Damasak but said militants failed to overrun the town.

“They came through the town towards the Brigade but they were repelled,” the military officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity, without providing details.

Some residents were reported to be fleeing from the town towards neighbouring Niger.

Damasak has repeatedly been targeted by ISWAP militants who have made several failed attempts to overrun a military outpost outside the town.

ISWAP, which split from the jihadist group Boko Haram in 2016, has become a dominant threat in Nigeria, attacking soldiers and bases while killing and kidnapping passengers at bogus checkpoints.

On March 1, ISWAP jihadists overran a UN hub in Dikwa, killing six civilians and forcing aid workers to temporarily retreat from the town despite urgent humanitarian needs.

Due to worsening security, humanitarian workers in Nigeria are struggling to provide aid, with the number of people requiring urgent assistance forecast to rise to 8.7 million this year.

President Muhammadu Buhari reshuffled the military command this year, raising hopes of a shift in strategy to end a 12-year-old conflict that has killed 36,000 people and forced around two million to flee their homes.