Suspended for helping Nigeria’s Boko Haram: Mercy Corps, UNICEF, Action Against Hunger
International aid agencies in Nigeria have repeatedly found themselves on a collision course with the authorities, with the latter accusing them of sabotaging its efforts to fight extremists and terrorists.
Northeast Nigeria has been blighted by a decade-long insurgency led by militant group Boko Haram that has killed 30,000 people and forced two million to flee their homes. The United Nations has said 7.1 million people in the region need assistance in one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
In this article, we highlight the aid agencies whose operations have been previously suspended by the Nigerian military.
On Wednesday, Mercy Corps issued a statement saying it was suspending its operations in two of the northeastern Nigerian states worst hit by Islamist insurgents after the army closed four of its offices in the region.
A military source and an aid worker at the organisation, both speaking on condition of anonymity, said the army closed the offices on Wednesday after troops said they had found 29 million naira ($94,771) in cash being transported in northeastern Borno state by a driver who said the money belonged to Mercy Corps.
Action Against Hunger
Last week, Nigeria’s army ordered for the closure of the offices of non-profit Action Against Hunger, accusing it of aiding terrorist groups such as Boko Haram and Islamic State.
Colonel Ado Isa, the deputy director of army public relations, said Action Against Hunger was warned several times that it was “aiding and abetting terrorists” by supplying food and drugs.
“Consequently, the AAH has been declared persona (non) grata,” Isa said.READ MORE: Nigeria bans NGO for feeding Boko Haram, Islamic State
Last year, the Nigerian military accused the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF) of organising workshops in the northeast city of Maiduguri to train people for “clandestine” activities that were “sabotaging” counter-terrorism efforts.
The army spokesperson Onyema Nwachukwu explained that the activities of some Unicef representatives could further jeopardise the fight against terrorism and insurgency, as they train and deploy spies who support the insurgents and their sympathisers”, adding that the organisation’s activities in the Northeast region would be suspended for three months.READ MORE: Nigerian army lifts ban on Unicef operations in northeast after ‘spy’ row
Amnesty International has previously condemned such suspensions saying they were part of ‘a wider drive to intimidate international humanitarian and human rights organisations who are working to save lives in this devastating conflict’.
The Nigerian military has also dismissed reports from international human rights organisations that it has committed rights violations and war crimes during its fight against Boko Haram.
The media has also been attacked for reporting casualty figures of the attacks, with the army actually threatening legal action against organisations for publishing unofficial death tolls.