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1.2 million people at risk of explosive mines in Borno, Adamawa, Yobe – UN Official

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About 1.2 million people are at risk of explosive mines action in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.

The declaration was made on Monday in Abuja by the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Matthias Schmale.

Speaking at the 2022 International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, Schmale of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, said the 1.2 million people needed life-saving assistance in the three states.

He said those at risk were identified during the 2022 Humanitarian Needs Overview process of the UN agency.

He noted that explosive ordnance in their different forms continued to represent immediate, grave and additional threat to already suffering populations in Northeast Nigeria.

He said the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) collated 1,532 incidents in the region involving explosive hazards from January 2016 to January 2022 involving more than 10,000 causalities.

About 1,356 civilians were injured and 789 killed from the number of causalities recorded, he added.

Schmale said in January 2019, Mine Action organisations provided critical life-saving information to mitigate the risk by explosive ordnance by educating more than 1.2 million Nigerians in conflict affected communities.

“Mines and other explosives are an everyday threat to civilian populations; we particularly condemn the use of improvised mines which kill without discrimination.

“It is important to remind that such devices go against international humanitarian law,” he said.

Schmale added that the UN was pursuing efforts to deliver lifesaving assistance to affected populations and encourage the development of a nationally-owned and coordinated response to reinforce Nigerian capacities.

He said also that in order to reinforce national capacities for explosive ordnance management, UNMAS conducted Improvised Explosives Devices (IED) disposal training for 26 Explosives Ordnance Department operators of the Nigeria Police Force in Borno.

“More than 300 Nigeria Police Force and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) frontline officers in Borno were trained in First Aid and Emergency Trauma Bag handling for the benefit of national security services providers.

“In 2022, 12 personnel of the police will become IED disposal trainers.

“Another 12 First Aid trainers and 80 personnel of the National Emergency Management Agency, states Emergency Management Agencies, the NSCDC and Civil Society Organisation have completed a Training of Trainers on Explosive Ordnance Risk Education,” he said.

Schmale added that UNMAS would give its fullest support to Nigeria to develop and execute the national mine action strategy to enable humanitarian mine action to work.

He encouraged the activation of a National Mine Action Centre and the development of a national mine action strategy for survey and clearance of mines and other explosives in affected areas.

In his remarks, retired Group Capt. Sadeeq Shehu, Technical Adviser to the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, said IEDs were discovered in eight public places in the region in the past.

He noted that the development was dangerous to the people and recommended that some mine risk awareness education be conducted for people in affected areas to sensitise them about inviting experts wherever they found IEDs.

Shehu said government had the responsibility to cater to and to support victims of detonated IEDs to sustain their livelihoods.

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Bukola Adewumi

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