76,000 IDPs in Rann Face Starvation as UN Halts Assistance – Independent Observers

76,000 IDPs in Rann Face Starvation as UN Halts Assistance

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More than 75,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Rann, Borno State are currently threatened by starvation following the interruption of humanitarian works in the area as a result of the recent attacks of the community by Boko Haram.

Edward Kallon, the Head of United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), in a statement, said the deadly attack has not only forced an emergency evacuation of aid workers but also made Rann inaccessible by land and by air.

The statement said the interruption in the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Rann is the direct result of an attack that started at dusk on 14 January 2019 on the military base, and continued into the next day. The statement explained that this has worsen the living conditions of the IDPs.

”A medical clinic, warehouses with humanitarian supplies and accommodation for aid workers were looted and/or destroyed in the attack, and the market and shelters in the camp were burned down by the attackers.

”Several civilian fatalities have also been reported, although the total number is not yet known, and thousands are reported to have fled to Cameroon. In addition, 14 aid workers, who were in Rann during the attack and able to hide, were withdrawn the day after by helicopter.”

At present Rann is inaccessible to international humanitarian organisations both by road and by air.

“The attacks on Rann, that are increasingly frequent, are having a devastating impact on the civilians taking refuge in this isolated town and severely affecting our ability to deliver life-saving aid to women, men and children in need.

“This attack has spread fear among an already vulnerable population, and humanitarian assets were also targeted. I urge the Government of Nigeria to protect civilians, including aid workers,” Kallon stated.

On Monday, January 14, Boko Haram insurgents carried out a deadly attack on Rann during which an undisclosed number of casualties were recorded.

The attack, which lasted all through Monday night till the morning of Tuesday, targeted a military base stationed in Rann, the headquarters of Kala Balge Local Government Area of Borno State.

Rann has in recent years been badly affected by the insurgency war. In 2017, a military fighter jet mistakenly dropped bombs on innocent people in an IDP camp killing nearly 200 persons. Last year, three female health workers working for UN agencies were abducted from the town and two of the abductees have been killed.

Meanwhile Amnesty International has said satellite images after the latest attacks on the town show a horrific picture. It said the attack resulted in large areas being burnt in the west and south of Rann, with more than 100 structures destroyed or heavily damaged by fire and over 9,000 people displayed.

“Amnesty International condemns Boko Haram’s despicable disdain for life. This attack clearly targeted civilians and, therefore, may constitute a war crime. The organization appeals to the Nigerian authorities to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to the thousands of people who have been displaced,” said Osai Ojigho, Director, Amnesty International Nigeria.

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