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Millions risk explosive mines in northern Nigeria

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UNITED Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Matthias Schmale, issued out a warning that  about 1.2 million people are at risk of explosive mines in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.

Speaking at the 2022 International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, Schmale of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, said that 1.2 million people needed lifesaving assistance in the three states.

He said those at risk were identified during the UN agency’s 2022 Humanitarian Needs Overview process.

Mr Schmale noted that explosive ordnance in their different forms continued to represent immediate, grave and additional threat to already suffering populations in Northeast Nigeria.

He said the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), collated 1,532 incidents in the region involving explosive hazards from January 2016 to January 2022, involving more than 10,000 casualties.

He added that about 1,356 civilians were injured and 789 killed from the number of casualties recorded.

Schmale said that in January 2019, mine action organisations provided critical life-saving information to mitigate the risk of explosive ordnance by educating more than 1.2 million Nigerians in conflict-affected communities.

He added that the UN was pursuing efforts to deliver life-saving assistance to affected populations and encourage the development of a nationally-owned and coordinated response to reinforce Nigerian capacities.

  He said: “In North-east Nigeria, explosive ordnance in their different forms continue to represent an immediate, grave and additional threat to already suffering populations. The use of indiscriminating improvised mines kill, maim and constitute an obstacle to the basic right of safe freedom of movement.

“These devices are also an obstacle to early recovery and development efforts. For the BAY states.

“Mines and other explosives are an everyday threat to civilian populations. We particularly condemn the use of improvised mines, which kill and maim without discrimination. It is important to remind that such devices go against international humanitarian law.

“Restriction of safe freedom of movement, endangered everyday life, killing and maiming indiscriminately, purposely targeting civilians, causing unnecessary suffering is not acceptable. Populations shall be protected against such threats.

“With donors’ support, and under the coordination of the United Nations, especially through UNMAS, action is already taken by humanitarian partners, such as the Youth Awakens Foundation, Danish Refugee Council and Mine Advisory Group, to mitigate the effects of this threat through risk education and mapping of contaminated lands.

“I am pleased to stress that since January 2019, Mine Action organisations have provided critical life-saving information to mitigate the risk by Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) for more than 1.2 million (including almost 60% girls and boys) conflict affected communities, IDPs in camps, host communities, refugees and returnees

“Also, life-saving assistance was provided to 999 humanitarian workers of more than 1,032 UN agencies, international and national NGOs and civil society organisations as well as stakeholders (government officials, service providers and caregivers), through explosive ordnance awareness to protect them during their travel and work.

“A lot has been accomplished. However, these efforts must be sustained. The 2022 Humanitarian Needs Overview process has identified 1.2 million people immediately at risk and in need for life-saving assistance in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.

“Again with donors’ support, the Humanitarian Response Plan will target 407,000 individuals from all genders and age to facilitate with decisive lifesaving risk education, mapping and marking of hazardous areas, identification of survivors and affected communities across BAY states. As well, capacity building projects will be conducted to sustain the response.

“More than 300 Nigeria Police Force and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) frontline officers in Borno, were trained in first aid and emergency trauma bag handling for national security services providers.

“In 2022, 12 personnel of the police will become IED disposal trainers.

“Another 12 first aid trainers and 80 personnel of the National Emergency Management Agency, states Emergency Management Agencies, the NSCDC and Civil Society Organisation have completed a training of trainers on explosive ordnance risk education.”

He, however, noted that full integration of Mine Action within humanitarian, early recovery and development strategies and plans is essential to effectively and efficiently protect communities.

According to him, “Be reassured that as the Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator, I pay the utmost attention to this necessary coordination and thank UNMAS for their action. I also praise all endeavours to ensure that our actions are developed and coordinated in close cooperation with Nigerian authorities and institutions.

“The humanitarian and development community appreciates the relentless actions born by Nigeria security forces to clear the roads from improvised mines and to dispose of Explosive Remnants of War.”

However he assured that that the UN was ready to collaborate with the Nigerian Government to extend the demining to the North-west with record of growing crisis in the region.

Schmale said that the UN, especially through UNMAS, are more than willing to provide technical advice and coordination support for the Government of Nigeria to fulfill this objective.

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