President Muhammadu Buhari, has commended the role played by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the release of the 21 abducted Chibok schoolgirls and urged it to sustain humanitarian interest in Nigeria. Buhari gave the commendation at a meeting with the President of the ICRC, Mr Peter Maurer, at the State House, Abuja, on Monday.
He said that the Federal Government was prepared to continue talks with the Boko Haram insurgents “as long as they agree to involve international agencies like ICRC.
“We’ve seen the result of recent talks, 21 of the Chibok girls are back.’’
While referring to the role played by ICRC in providing immediate humanitarian assistance to the girls, Buhari noted that the rescued girls had spent over 900 days in the hands of their abductors.
He observed that Nigeria’s biggest problem was the issue of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), noting that there were more than two million IDPs across the country.
According to him, the IDPs are made up of over 60 per cent women and children.
“About 60 per cent of the children don’t know their parents, or where they come from. It is weighing heavily on government,’’ he added.
On rebuilding of destroyed infrastructure, the President said it was a priority of government, noting that the Group of Seven Countries (G-7) had equally indicated support, which Nigeria heartily welcomed.
He said “we appreciate all your efforts. I am pleased you recognised that our military is cooperating with civil authorities, and respecting humanitarian issues.
“It is a difficult time for Nigeria. About 27 of our 36 states couldn’t pay salaries when we came last year, and we are still struggling with that.
“But we will get out of it.”
In his remarks, Maurer said ICRC’s operation in the Lake Chad region was the second largest in the world, after Syria.
He said there were nutritional, health, water and sanitation issues in the North-East, in addition to rebuilding of infrastructure.
He added that “we are ready to engage and play supportive role in responding to crisis in Nigeria.
“Security is a lot better than it was a year ago, but humanitarian problems are serious, and don’t disappear so quickly.”
The ICRC president also commended Nigeria for granting increased access to detainees and exchanges with the Armed Forces.
According to him, detention facilities have improved and there are fewer deaths and things are better health-wise. (NAN)