UN/Nigeria relations “intact”


The United Nations’ relationship with Nigeria is intact, a UN official said, despite a military raid on a compound belonging to the international body in the conflict-ridden north-east.

“I am pleased to report our relationship of collaboration and trust is intact,” Peter Lundberg, UN deputy humanitarian co-ordinator for Nigeria, said at a briefing in Maiduguri.

Friday’s raid threatened to undermine an already-rocky relationship between Nigeria’s military and the United Nations and other aid organisations.

The army said it was a search for members of Boko Haram in Maiduguri, the epicentre of the fight against the militants, in an area of the city including the UN compound.

The army and United Nations still disagree over whether the compound was registered and designated as belonging to the UN.

A worsening of relations between the UN and Nigeria could risk destabilising efforts to deliver aid to almost seven million people affected by the eight-year conflict with Boko Haram, one of the biggest humanitarian crises in the world.

The United Nations halted various operations around the north-east, but following reassurances from Nigeria those resumed, said Lundberg.

The insurgency has driven at least two million people from their homes, left tens of thousands on the brink of famine and millions more without secure access to food.
“We are here in support of the government of Nigeria, the United Nations agencies and over 60 non-government organisations,” said Lundberg.

In a separate statement, Ibrahim Attahiru, a commander of Nigeria’s operations against Boko Haram, said the army was not trying to block United Nations’ activities.
“We will continue to collaborate with the United Nations humanitarian agencies to achieve the goals of the counter-insurgency campaign and other developments to address the humanitarian crisis in the north-east region,” he said.