UN Humanitarian Coordinator condemns attack on aid helicopter…urges government on safety, security
Abuja, July 4, 2020
United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon has condemned the violent attack on a humanitarian helicopter by non-state armed groups on July which led to the death of 2 civilians and a five-year old child.
Kallon expressed his concern in a statement on Saturday in Abuja, stating that a humanitarian helicopter was seriously damaged.
He however noted that no No aid workers were on board at the time and crew members are all safe.
“I am gravely concerned by reports of another violent attack by non-state armed groups in Damasak, Borno State, on 2 July, in which at least two innocent civilians lost their lives, including a five-year old child.
“Several others were injured, and a humanitarian helicopter was hit, sustaining serious damage.
“I extend my sincere condolences to the families of the civilians who lost their lives in the attack and wish a prompt recovery to those injured.
“I welcome the Government commitment to investigate the attack and swiftly bring to justice the perpetrators.
“I deplore that a UN Humanitarian Air Service helicopter was hit by bullets during the attack.
“No aid workers were on board at the time and crew members are all safe. My thoughts are also with the crew and I commend them for piloting the chopper back to safety during this critical situation.
“The attack and damage to the helicopter severely affects the ability of aid actors to provide urgently needed assistance to vulnerable people in remote areas across Borno State,” Kallon said.
Kallon said the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) is essential to evacuate wounded civilians and remains the backbone to facilitating humanitarian access, thereby enabling UN agencies and non-governmental organizations to safely and securely reach the most vulnerable populations.
He said that in 2019, UNHAS transported 66,271 passengers and 147 megatons of humanitarian assistance, as well as conducted 30 medical and 70 security evacuations.
“I strongly condemn any attack against civilians, humanitarian assets or aid workers and call on all armed parties to respect international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and ensure the protection of civilians, humanitarian property and personnel.
“I furthermore call on all parties to allow and facilitate safe and unimpeded access for humanitarians to deliver life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable people in the north-east”.
The UN Humanitarian Coordinator said that insecurity and violent attacks continue to hamper the ability of people to access basic services or livelihoods and recover from the protracted crisis in north-east Nigeria.
He said the UN and NGO partners are working to bring life-saving assistance to 7.8 million people in the crisis-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, many of them in remote areas.
He however called on the Nigerian authorities to reinforce the safety and security of all humanitarian workers.