Nigeria: Hundreds of thousands of Nigerians trapped by conflict: MSF

GENEVA – Hundreds of thousands of people in northeastern Nigeria remain beyond the reach of aid, trapped between Boko Haram Islamist insurgents and counter-insurgency operations that have left many without food or work, Doctors Without Borders said.

Those who reach health centres report continuing violence against civilians by both sides in Borno state, said Bruno Jochum, general director of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) Switzerland, upon return from the region.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people who are not accessible today for humanitarian assistance,” he told Reuters.

“What we see is a civilian population who for a bit more than two years has been caught and trapped between, on the one hand, violent attacks by the Boko Haram movement and, the other hand, very strong counter-insurgency operations by the Nigerian armed forces,” Jochum said.

Around 800,000 displaced people – mainly women, children and elderly – live near the state capital Maiduguri, about a quarter of them in camps, MSF says. The medical charity focuses on providing maternal and child health.

“Those that are accessible outside the regional capital often are regrouped in small towns, camps under the control of the Nigerian military, but they cannot move out or can hardly move … and they are not able to plant. They are completely cut off from their livelihoods,” Jochum said.

Boko Haram has killed around 15,000 people and forced more than 2 million from their homes during a seven-year insurgency.

Access has improved somewhat in Borno in the last six months after reports of people dying from malnutrition, Jochum said.

Source: Angola Press News Agency