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A series of attacks by armed groups on Damasak town in northeast Nigeria, including multiple humanitarian compounds, has forced the majority of the population to flee the city and humanitarian organisations to suspend their operations.
Since 10 April, armed groups have carried out three consecutive attacks on Damasak town and the humanitarian community. The targeted attacks on humanitarian compounds and stocks, including those of the Norwegian Refugee Council and Action Against Hunger, have resulted in an unprecedented level of destruction.
The violent attacks pushed an estimated 65,000 people from Damasak on the road. Thousands of families and elderly people in dire need, and largely dependent on humanitarian aid, are currently crossing the Yobe river towards Niger for safety. NGO staff managed to hide and escape the town, but their private houses were set ablaze after house-to-house searches, demonstrating an unprecedented level of targeting of humanitarian workers.
"We condemn these horrific acts of violence. Although humanitarian organizations in northeast Nigeria have faced continuous threats and attacks for years, the worsening security situation has now reached a climax. Our colleagues should be protected, in line with international humanitarian law"
Action Against Hunger and the Norwegian Refugee Council are now calling for the Nigerian government and international donors to do more to ensure humanitarians can safely reach all people in need across northeast Nigeria.
“A large number of vulnerable children, women and men will have no relief and no protection, unless the Nigerian government and international donors do more to help us stay and deliver,” said Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, Jan Egeland.
Around 8,7 million people in northeast Nigeria are in dire need of humanitarian assistance due to ten years of conflict. Currently, more than a million of these people receive no assistance and have no access to basic social services because humanitarians lack safe access to the areas where they are.
“Governments cannot shy away from their responsibility to protect civilians. Our access and ability to safely support the millions of people in need is shrinking day by day, at a time when needs are reaching alarming levels,” Egeland added.
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