Boko Haram/ISWAP: Red Cross distances self from negotiation

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), says its role in Nigeria does not involve taking part in the negotiation process between the federal government, the military and Boko Haram/ISWAP.

The body also declared that it has never and will not take the side of any party, insisting that ICRC remained focused on its effort of providing succour to insurgency victims and other civilians.

Communications Coordinator, ICRC Nigeria, Mr. Vincent Pouget, said this on Sunday in a chat with PRNigeria, while commenting on the processes that led to the rescue of some kidnapped Chibok and Dapchi girls in Borno and Yobe states.

Pouget stated that there were a lot of misinformation on the role ICRC played in the release of over a hundred students of Government Girls Technical College Dapchi and Government Girls Secondary School (GSS) Chibok.

He said: “Both parties agreed on the release of the girls without us being involved. The ICRC was not at all part of the negotiation process. It was when they agreed for the release that they asked ICRC to provide logistics like transport. That’s only what we provided.

“We have a bit problem with perception in the North-East because people thought that we have a specific connection (with insurgents). They thought we were involved in the negotiation, that’s not the case.

“We do not support any fighting party at all, the misconception that we got is that people thought we were involved in the negotiation. That’s not our mandate, we only support civilians affected by the situation”.

Pouget disclosed that aside the North-East, ICRC was also involved in humanitarian situations caused by communal clashes in the North-Central, or South-South.

“In the North East in particular, our aim is to provide succour for a civilian population that are being affected by the violence. One of our core mandates is to provide medical care,” he noted.

Pouget said in 2019 alone, ICRC provided more than 745,000 people with either food and provided more than 506,000 consultations in Primary Health Care Centres where more than 22,000 children have been born.

“For people who have been displaced, in Monguno, Damboa, and Maiduguri, we built temporary shelters for over 34,000 people,” Pouget explained.

The coordinator, however, pointed out that access to civilians is one of the biggest challenge the ICRC is facing, because of the dynamic nature of insecurity.

He regretted that ICRC was sometimes constrained to render help if there was no adequate security presence.

On treatment of insurgents, Pouget said: “A wounded is wounded and it should be taken care by any party. That’s part of the law of war that is respected and applied to all situations of conflict including the one faced in the North East”.

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