Red Cross and Nigerian Nurses Threaten To Abandon Northeast Over Insecurity

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The National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, NANNM, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are threatening to leave the northeast of Nigeria over government’s inability to secure the lives of their personnel in the region.

This threat comes in the wake of the execution of two health workers of ICRC, Saifura Khorsa, in September, and Hauwa Liman, this week, by the terrorist group, the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) – a breakaway faction of Boko Haram.

The nurses were abducted from Rann in Borno State on March 1, along side one Mrs. Alice Loksha, who is still in captivity. All three women are among the volunteer health workers tending to the humanitarian needs of over 80,000 displaced persons who fled the insurgency in the restive northeast region of Nigeria.

Speaking on Friday 19 October, on behalf of the leadership of NANNM, the association’s President, Comrade Abdulrafiu Adeniji, said it was sad and unacceptable that the Federal Government was handling the security of health workers in the northeast with levity and warned that if the government failed to rise to the occasion and tackle the delicate security situation in the region, the association would not hesitate to withdraw its members from there.

“If we watch what (security measures) the government is putting in place and have any cause to believe they are unsatisfactory, we would have no option but to withdraw nurses and midwives from the region,” he said.

He asked members to wear a black arm bands for three days beginning from Saturday to Monday to mark the mourning of their slain colleagues, urging the remaining aid workers  to make their services available only when they were convinced of their security.

Nigerian president, Buhari

“We call on members not to sacrifice their lives in the line of duty, because the government seems not to be taking good care of their security.

“Therefore, while appealing to people who are still there to work under serious security watch, we advise those who are not in the Northeast not to consider carefully before going to the region for now.”

“We appeal to the Federal Government to provide special protection to the nurses and midwives and other professionals in the health sector as they have become victims of cross fire”. He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to personally do everything within his power and his administration to rescue Mrs Alice Loksha – the remaining of the three ladies.

Mr. Buhari won election in 2015 on his promise to obliterate the terrorist group which still remains an embarrassingly lethal force in the northeast three years on.

Meantime, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is issuing threat of withdrawal of its own, expressing shock and dismay at the execution of its 24-year-old midwife Hauwa Liman.

ICRC Threatens too. Refused To Pay Ransom

Patricia Danzi, ICRC Regional Director for Africa, told Reuters new agency, that the organisation infact received request for ransom for Miss Liman, but of course refused to pay because it was against the organization’s global policy as doing so would set a dangerous precedence for the 16,000 aid workers it deploys worldwide.

Hauwa Liman: Red Cross explains refusal to pay ransom
Patricia Danzi, ICRC Regional Director for Africa

“We are a humanitarian organisation so we cannot enter into such kinds of negotiations. We always ask for unconditional release. And that’s what we did. That was the plea,” Danzi said.

ICRC is based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Buhari Pleads With ICRC Not To Leave

Concerned by the message from the ICRC, presidency issued a statement pleading with the ICRC not to make good its promise of abandoning the country. The presidency promised that the government would do all it can to protect its staff and other aid workers.

But Danzi said the ICRC was not about to suspend its operations in northern Nigeria even as it remained worried, saying, “We want to be there for the people that still need our help,” but they needed to do so in a secure environment.

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