Nigeria reverses UNICEF suspension tied to Boko Haram suspicions

By AT editor - 15 December 2018 at 4:39 am
Nigeria reverses UNICEF suspension tied to Boko Haram suspicions

The Nigerian military says it has lifted a suspension against UNICEF, the United Nations children’s relief agency, imposed earlier because of allegations that the agency was collaborating with Boko Haram terrorists and training spies in the country’s northeast.

In a statement issued late Friday, military spokesman Onyema Nwachukwu said that “extensive deliberations” stressing the agency’s need to work more closely with security agencies led to an agreement to lift the three-month suspension.

“The Command also urged UNICEF representatives to ensure they share information with relevant authorities whenever induction or training of new staff is being conducted,” the statement said.

The suspension of UNICEF shocked the international humanitarian aid community, while the agency itself said it was seeking more information about the accusations.

“The Nigerian army has accused UNICEF of ‘aiding Boko Haram’ – an absurd charge,” said Osai Ojigho, the director of Amnesty International in Nigeria. “The suspension of UNICEF will in fact deprive those whose lives have been devastated by the Boko Haram conflict from receiving much-needed humanitarian assistance.”

Amnesty said it saw the UNICEF suspension as part of a wider drive spanning many developing countries, in which governments seek to intimidate international humanitarian and human rights organizations who are working to save lives in this devastating conflict.

“The Nigerian military should focus on protecting lives rather than smearing NGOs,” said Ojigho.

Image: UNICEF Nigeria

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