Areas freed from Boko Haram ‘truly safe’ for returnees

UN experts urge Nigeria to make areas freed from Boko Haram ‘truly safe’ for returnees – United Nations human rights experts have urged the Nigerian Government to ensure that the areas they claim to have liberated from Boko Haram forces are truly safe for the displaced persons to return.

They also called for camps, both formal and informal, for internally displaced persons (IDPs), to be adequately protected, and stressed that all returns should be voluntary and coordinated.

The experts’ appeal came after a series of brutal attacks by Boko Haram on villages in north-eastern Nigeria that included an attempt to storm an informal IDP settlement near the village of Dalori, where more than 90 people, predominantly women and children, are believed to have been killed.

In addition, according to reports, two female suicide bombers have attacked the site for internally displaced Nigerians at Dikwa, located some 90 kms west of the Borno capital, Maidugiri, killing more than 50 people and injuring dozens.

“We call on the Nigerian Government to plan carefully for any IDPs return, given the relentless attacks by Boko Haram in ostensibly safe areas,” said Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, UN Special Rapporteur on sale of children, who two weeks ago visited the Dalori camp, together with Urmila Bhoola and Dainius Pûras, the UN Special Rapporteurs on slavery and on health respectively to examine the efforts to reintegrate and rehabilitate women and children abducted and abused by Boko Haram.

“These attacks put yet another strain on already depleted resources to cater for the need of the existing displaced individuals and add enormous anguish to women, men and children who are already traumatized by the horrendous abuses and unspeakable cruelty at the hands of Boko Haram which has caused immense suffering,” Ms. de Boer-Buquicchio said, underlining the IDPs’ extreme level of vulnerability.

“We urge the Nigerian authorities to do more to stem the wave of recent violence,” she underscored.

While noting the Government’s announcement to reinforce security measures around IDP camps and civilian sites, Chaloka Beyani, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of IDPs, condemned the cynical attack on people who have already lost so much, stressing that they must not be returned to areas lacking adequate security.

Child rights expert Benyam Dawit Mezmur, who currently heads the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, reminded the Nigerian authorities that they must ensure the safety and security of civilians on its territory, and to address human rights abuses by third parties.

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