A video has emerged online of six aid workers in Nigeria who were abducted by suspected Boko Haram insurgents on July 18. In the video, a woman who identifies herself as Grace, an employee of the humanitarian relief agency Action Against Hunger, pleads for the release of her and her colleagues, who can be seen sitting around her.
The six were abducted after an attack on their aid convoy while driving to Damasak, Borno State in northeastern Nigeria. Action Against Hunger confirmed Grace’s identity as well as three health workers and two drivers who went missing following the July 18 attack. Another driver was killed during the attack.
The Islamist armed group Boko Haram is still a threat to security in the northeast, despite government proclamations of the group’s defeat. Lethal attacks by at least two factions of the group continue, including abductions and suicide bombings.
This is not the first time suspected Boko Haram insurgents have targeted and attacked aid workers in Nigeria. In March 2018, Boko Haram insurgents kidnapped Saifura Ahmed and Hauwa Liman, both employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross. They were later executed in September and October 2018 respectively. In 2013, suspected Boko Haram gunmen killed about nine polio workers in Kano State. In 2011, Boko Haram attacked the United Nations main office in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, and killed 18 people.
About 7.1 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in northeastern Nigeria as a result of the conflict between Boko Haram and the government, which is now entering its tenth year. Humanitarian groups cannot reach an estimated 823,000 people because of insecurity in the region.
Aid workers grapple with difficult conditions to provide lifesaving services to people in dire need. Attacking them is a war crime. The Nigerian authorities should take measures to improve the safety of aid workers and bring those responsible for attacks against them to justice.