Marking the tenth anniversary of World Humanitarian Day, aid workers in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, as well as in the capital Abuja, have gathered on 19 August to raise awareness on the risks many of them are exposed to everyday while providing life-saving assistance to millions affected by crisis in north-east Nigeria. They have paid special tribute to women humanitarians in Nigeria and brought their voices to the world.
Nigerian and foreign aid workers are on the front lines of one of the most severe humanitarian crises in the world, showing relentless commitment to supporting some of the most vulnerable people in Nigeria.
Attacks against UN, NGOs and other aid workers are persisting. Since the beginning of the conflict in July 2009, a total of 37 aid workers have lost their lives in service to humanity. Moreover, recent data indicates that the conflict has claimed the lives of 35,000 civilians.
“I have been impressed by the engagement of Nigerian women and women aid workers from all over the globe, working tirelessly to extend a helping hand to those affected by the decade-long crisis,” declared the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon. “They are making small miracles happen everyday, saving so many lives. But they, and their families, are also making sacrifices. It is our duty and obligation to do our utmost to protect them. Aid workers should never be a target.”
The ten-year conflict has devastated communities in north-east Nigeria. Insecurity is hampering the resumption to normal life, leaving conflict-affected families dependent on humanitarian assistance to survive. Some 7.1 million people are still in need of urgent humanitarian assistance and 1.8 million people are internally displaced.
“I also had to flee and leave everything behind when violence and armed attacks hit the area I lived in. After several months being displaced, I came back and saw the devastation,” recalls Patience Joshua, working with Norwegian Church Aid, an international NGO providing assistance in the border town of Ngala, Borno State. “I quickly realized that being here as an aid worker is not just another job. It means a lot more to all of us and to the people we are helping.”
Commemoration of World Humanitarian Day started on Saturday 17 August with a walk to raise awareness in the centre of Abuja, and will continue until 21 August, with last events taking place in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).