The United Nations (UN) has condemned the killing of 110 farmers in Borno State, Northeast Nigeria, by suspected Boko Haram militants over the weekend.
“It is the most violent direct attack against innocent civilians this year,” Edward Kallon, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, said in a statement.
The figure of deaths reported is now nearly triple the original 43 deaths reported after the attack took place. On Sunday, Borno State governor Babagana Zulum had admitted more bodies were yet to be recovered from the village where the terrorists attacked rice farmers.
“It is unfortunately one of too many such attacks targeting farmers, fishermen, and families who are trying to recover some livelihood opportunity after over a decade of conflict,” said Kallon.
The incident has drawn much condemnation from Nigerians with the hashtag #SackTheServiceChiefs trending at one point. Meanwhile various conflicting statements have been issued by government officials with President Muhammadu Buhari describing the attack as “insane”.
In a statement released through his spokesperson, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for “the immediate and safe return of the abductees and those still reported missing.”
The statement added: “The Secretary-General reaffirms the commitment of the United Nations to support the government of Nigeria in its fight against terrorism and violent extremism, and in its response to pressing humanitarian needs in the north-east of the country.”
The Boko Haram insurgency has ravaged the northeast of Nigeria for the better part of the last 10 years, with various Nigerian administrations promising an end to the militant organisation’s activities, but those promises have not yet been fulfilled.
The result is a humanitarian crisis that has claimed the lives of thousands of people and displaced millions from their homes. The violence, coupled with climate shocks, has also aggravated food security, leaving an estimated 10 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and protection, according to the UN.
“Such direct attacks against innocent civilians jeopardise the ability for the most vulnerable people to survive the adversity they are facing, and which we are striving to alleviate,” said Kallon, calling on all actors on the ground to “respect international laws and humanity”.