Nigeria allows 2 aid groups to resume work in volatile north
Nigeria has lifted a ban on two international humanitarian bodies it accused of aiding “terrorists” in the country’s restive north, the birthplace of the Boko Haram jihadist group.
Without warning in September, the military moved in and closed down the offices of Action Against Hunger (ACF) and a second NGO Mercy Corps in northeast Nigeria.
After shutting its offices, the military accused Paris-based ACF of “aiding and abetting terrorists and their atrocities” by supplying food and drugs to the jihadist fighters.
The NGO denied the charges and, along with Mercy Corps, called for the army to reverse the closure.
“The suspension of the two international Humanitarian organisations – Mercy Corps and Action Against Hunger is temporarily lifted,” said Humanitarian Affairs Minister Sadia Farouq late Wednesday.
The United Nations says stopping the work of the aid groups has left nearly 400,000 people “without food and other essential help for the last month”.
During a visit to Nigeria last week, the UN’s humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said he had received assurances the suspension would be lifted in the “next few days”.
But Farouq on Wednesday added: “The concerns and recommendations of the board of inquiry will continue to receive attention and scrutiny to address the issues raised and comply.”
Ten years of fighting has killed an estimated 35,000 people, spilt into neighbouring countries and forced millions from their homes.
The UN says this year alone 140,000 people have been displaced by renewed Boko Haram violence and more than three million people are food-insecure as farmers have been unable to plant crops.