The United Nations on Friday called for the safety of aid workers in Nigeria’s volatile northeast where a jihadist conflict has killed 35 humanitarian staff in the past six years.
Twenty-two have been wounded and 28 kidnapped since 2016, according to the UN, quoting a database.
At least 40,000 people have died in the region and around two million have been forced to flee their homes since 2009, when Boko Haram began its Islamist rebellion.
The violence has spread to neighbouring Chad, Cameroon and Niger, triggering a dire humanitarian crisis in the region.
“Since 2016, 35 aid workers have been killed in northeast Nigeria, according to the Aid Worker Security Database (AWSD),” the UN humanitarian agency in Nigeria (OCHA) said in a statement on World humanitarian Day.
“Twenty-two have been wounded and 28 kidnapped,” it said, adding that “so far in 2022, six aid workers have been kidnapped and one has been killed in the region.”
Matthias Schmale, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, commended aid workers for providing life-saving assistance to millions of people in the restive region.
“Despite the many challenges in this crisis, we should all be immensely proud of the impact humanitarians have in northeast Nigeria,” he said.
“Through our combined effort our humanitarian ‘village’ delivered assistance to five million people last year. That assistance saved countless lives, improved living conditions, and protected the most vulnerable people,” he added.
This year, 8.4 million people needed humanitarian help in northeast Nigeria, the UN said.
Deteriorating food security is one of the most worrying aspects of the crisis, it said, warning that “approximately 1.74 million children under five are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition across the north-east in 2022.”