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UN halts humanitarian aid in North East, flays attack on helicopter

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Don’t trade with terrorists, GOC warns Borno marketers

The United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) rotary operation in the North East region has been suspended following a non-state armed group’s attack on Damasak town and UN helicopter last Thursday.

In a statement in Maiduguri yesterday, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, disclosed: “We’re to establish the facts surrounding a shooting incident during a UN aircraft approach to Damasak, Borno State. One of the UN helicopters sustained bullet holes.”

Kallon said the halt in humanitarian services would be for an initial period of one week, to allow UN officials to engage with government partners and conduct new risk assessments for each helicopter location. He assured that all the possible mitigation measures were taken to determine the safety of operating in insurgency-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.

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The helicopter was able to turn around and safely return to Maiduguri airport, he noted. UN has, however, condemned the attack, which claimed the lives of two civilians, including a five-year-old.

“Several others were also injured and a humanitarian helicopter was hit while aid workers were delivering humanitarian assistance to Damasak.” According to him, no aid worker was on board at the time and the crew members were safe after the pilot returned to Maiduguri airport. He, therefore, commended the pilot and other crew members for returning to base safely during the critical situation.

Calling on the Nigerian authorities to reinforce the safety of all humanitarian workers, Kallon condoled with the families of civilians who lost their lives in the attack. He welcomed government’s commitment to investigate the attack and bring to justice the perpetrators.

MEANWHILE, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7 Division, Nigerian Army, Brig-Gen. Abdul Ibrahim, has warned marketers against trading with Boko Haram terrorists. Ibrahim gave the warning at the weekend during environmental sanitation along Baga road, Maiduguri, to mark the 2020 Nigerian Army Day Celebration (NADCEL).

“Traders at Baga Fish market and others in Borno are to desist from buying and selling of food items to Boko Haram insurgents,” he warned. IN another vein, the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj-Gen. Farouk Yahaya, has inaugurated two projects for troops’ quick reaction force.

The commissioned projects are Camp Delta Base and Combato entertainment facilities and a gymnasium for soldiers’ relaxation and physical fitness. While commissioning the base and the centre at the weekend to mark NADCEL at Maimalari Cantonment, Maiduguri, he disclosed: “The quick reaction force showcases our combat capabilities of fighting Boko Haram in the theatre of war.”

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Edward KallonUNHAS
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