Published:  12:06 PM, 12 August 2017

Nigerian military makes unauthorized search of UN base


 Nigerian soldiers conducted an unauthorized search of aUnited Nations humanitarian base in the city where the Boko Haram insurgencybegan, the U.N. said Friday, expressing "grave concern" over themilitary's actions.

 

Aid groups and Nigerian officials at times have been at oddsin their approaches to the vast crisis in the country's northeast, wheremillions have been uprooted during Boko Haram's deadly eight-year insurgency.

 

"The humanitarian crisis in Nigeria's northeast is oneof the most severe in the world today," Edward Kallon, the U.N.humanitarian coordinator for Nigeria, said in a statement. "I am extremelyconcerned that these actions could be detrimental to the critical work that isbeing carried out every day to support the most vulnerable in the region, and Icall upon the government of Nigeria to provide clarification."

 

Local media reported that large numbers of soldierssurrounded the U.N. building in Maiduguri on Friday morning searching for arms.The U.N. said the search lasted three hours before the soldiers departed. Itsaid it had no information "regarding the reason or motivations for theunauthorized search."

 

Nigeria's military confirmed the incident in a separatestatement, saying its actions were in line with ongoing search efforts incounter-insurgency operations. It said no arrests were made.

 

The U.N. property searched "did not carry a U.N.designation," the military added.

 

Rumors have spread that Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekaumay have been taking refuge in one of the U.N. buildings. Nigeria's militaryrecently intensified its search for Shekau, recently announcing a 40-dayultimatum for its commanders to find him.

 

Maiduguri and the northeast remain at risk of deadly attacksby Boko Haram, despite President Muhammadu Buhari's declaration late last yearthat the extremist group had been "crushed." Buhari has since spenttwo weeks-long stretches in London for medical treatment and has been out ofthe country since early May, creating uncertainty around the country's securityefforts.

 

Boko Haram has been using a growing number of girls andyoung women in suicide bombings in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, andelsewhere, sometimes drugging them to make them carry out the attacks. Bombingsin recent weeks have targeted displaced persons' camps in Maiduguri.

 

The extremist group has abducted thousands of Nigerians overthe years, including the nearly 300 Chibok schoolgirls seized in a massabduction in 2014. Earlier this year, Nigeria's government exchanged five BokoHaram commanders for the release of more than 80 Chibok girls.

 

The insurgency has killed more than 20,000 people andspilled into neighboring countries, which have joined together in amultinational force to combat the extremist group.

 

The threats to those caught in the fighting includeNigeria's own military. The air force last month expressed its "deepestregrets" for mistakenly bombing a displaced persons' camp in the town ofRann in January. A Borno state government official said more than 230 peoplewere killed when the air force bombed the camp multiple times.

 

The continuing unrest has created a vast hunger crisis innortheast Nigeria as markets and agriculture are disrupted and many people fearreturning home, even as the government claims that security is returning.

 

The U.N. says more than 50 non-governmental aid groups areworking in Nigeria's northeast to help nearly 7 million people in need, andthat funding appeals are badly met so far.

 

The U.N. says the threat of famine in Nigeria, along withSomalia, South Sudan and Yemen, forms the world's largest humanitarian crisissince the world body was founded in 1945.

 

 


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