European Parliament condemns attacks on aid workers, others in Nigeria




The European Parliament has condemned attacks on humanitarian aid workers as insecurity, especially the Boko Haram terrorism, remains a major source of concern, among others.

A statement the parliament said it “Condemns all attacks on humanitarian aid personnel or facilities, and urges measures to ensure the safety of aid workers and a secure environment for humanitarian organisations to carry out their essential work;

Excerpts of the European parliament’s statement read thus: “A. whereas the security situation in Nigeria has significantly deteriorated in recent years,
posing a serious threat to regional and international security; whereas human rights
violations and mass killings are widespread, notably in the North-East Region of the
country; whereas over 36 000 people have been killed by the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria since 2009;
B. whereas the country is in its 10th year of a regionalised armed conflict; whereas violent extremism and terrorist activities, in particular, are on the rise, with jihadist groups, such as Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), growing in power and influence; whereas Boko Haram has attacked Nigeria’s police and
military, politicians, schools, religious buildings, public institutions and civilians with
increasing regularity since 2009; whereas the vast majority of victims are Muslims;
C. whereas Nigeria ranks third out of 163 countries on the Global Terrorism Index behind
Iraq and Afghanistan, making it the third in the list of countries most affected by
terrorism;
D. whereas the security situation has been aggravated by an escalation of religious and
ethnic violence in some parts of the country, including the conflict in the agricultural
Middle Belt, where farmers and nomadic herders are in conflict over land and water
resources;
E. whereas it is believed that ISWAP currently holds dozens of captives, including
Christian leaders, security forces and aid workers;
F. whereas Nigeria’s population, the most numerous in Africa, is almost equally
distributed between Muslims and Christians; whereas the country is home to the
region’s largest Christian community, with nearly 30 million Christians living in
northern Nigeria; whereas historic rivalry between the predominantly Muslim north and
Christian south has dramatically intensified with the spread of radical Islam;
G. whereas ISWAP claimed responsibility for the execution of 11 people in a video
released on 26 December 2019; whereas the group claimed all those killed were
Christians, and that the attack was in retaliation for the death of IS leader Abu Bakr al-
Baghdadi in Syria;
H. whereas these killings are part of a wider series of terrorists acts, including the attack of
24 December 2019 on a Christian village near Chibok that resulted in the death of seven
villagers and kidnapping of a teenage girl, the killing of three civilians outside Biu on
23 December 2019, and the killing of seven civilians in Nganzai on 22 December 2019;
I. whereas according to the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust, over 6 000 Christians have
been murdered since 2015 by jihadist groups or have perished as a result of the ‘your
land or your blood’ policy carried out by Fulani militants; whereas in the Sharia States
Christians face constant discrimination, and are often considered second-class citizens;
J. whereas although President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the killings and urged
the population not to become divided along religious lines, these attacks have been
carried out with total impunity, with perpetrators rarely being held to account; whereas
an Amnesty International report has demonstrated wilful negligence by the Nigerian
Security Forces concerning the deadly attacks against farmers’ communities;
K. whereas Human Rights Watch has reported that the Nigerian military has detained over
3 600 children, half of them girls, suspected of involvement with Islamist and non-state
armed groups, often on the basis of little or no evidence; whereas many detainees have
suffered abuse, including sexual violence, and have died in detention from disease,
hunger, dehydration or gunshot wounds; whereas the military has systematically denied
access to the detention facilities to verify the conditions in which children are held;
L. whereas the situation of girls and women in Nigeria is especially problematic due to
generalised discriminatory practices, limited access to health services and education,
widespread female genital mutilation and child marriages;
M. whereas the International Criminal Court (ICC) has stated that there are reasonable
grounds to believe that crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute
have been committed in Nigeria by Boko Haram and the Nigerian Security Forces
(NSF), including murder and persecution; whereas in its 2019 Report on Preliminary
Examinations, the ICC concludes that despite a number of steps taken by the Nigerian
authorities towards ascertaining the criminal responsibility of alleged perpetrators, the
investigative or prosecutorial steps undertaken to date in relation to members of Boko
Haram and the NSF appear to have been limited both in scope and depth;
N. whereas since 2015 the government has been criticised for its inadequate handling of
the Islamic insurgency across the country; whereas Nigeria’s military and police are
facing a myriad of security threats and appear overstretched and unable to tackle
simultaneous security crises;
O. whereas the Multinational Joint Task Force has driven terrorist groups out of many
areas under their control since its establishment in 2015, though the region still remains
highly unstable; whereas the recent withdrawal of 1 200 Chadian soldiers, coinciding
with a surge of violence in the North-East Region, has caused concern among the
population; whereas hundreds of Nigerian civilians installed nearby fled the area fearing
new attacks by the jihadists after this withdrawal;
P. whereas the EU, the Federal Republic of Germany and the Economic Community of
West African States (ECOWAS) launched a project on Peace and Security Architecture
and Operations (EPSAO) in October 2019; whereas the objective of the project is to
strengthen ECOWAS mechanisms and capacity to manage conflict and support a postconflict
environment in West Africa;
Q. whereas the situation in Nigeria has caused an unprecedented humanitarian crisis and
led to the displacement of more than 2 million people in the North-East, according to
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA); whereas according to
Human Rights Watch most internally displaced people cannot exercise their basic rights
to food, housing, education, health, protection from harm, as well as the right to
freedom of movement; whereas the EU has allocated EUR 28,3 million to support
humanitarian assistance in the country; whereas humanitarian aid needs are far from
being met by current funds;
R. whereas according to section of the Human Rights Watch World Report 2019 on
Nigeria, over 35 000 internally displaced people returned to north-eastern communities
in 2018 despite security concerns and the lack of basic necessities, including food and
shelter;
S. whereas nearly half of the Nigerian population live in extreme poverty; whereas it is
estimated that over 7 million Nigerians are in urgent need of life-saving assistance;
T. whereas thousands of Nigerians are risking their lives on the migration routes to the EU
in the hope of living in better economic, social and security conditions;
U. whereas the humanitarian space in the country has shrunk, with the kidnapping and
killing of several aid workers; whereas eight aid workers were killed in 2019, part of a
total of 26 who have lost their lives in the conflict since 2011; whereas security risks
often hinder aid delivery and have caused the departure of many humanitarian
organisations;
V. whereas, furthermore, the Government has suspended a number of international aid
agencies and charities, claiming they had been acting as money-launderers for Islamist
groups; whereas in September 2019, the Nigerian Armed Forces requested the closure
of Action Against Hunger and Mercy Corps without notice, leaving 400 000 people
without access to aid;
W. whereas under Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement, the EU engages in regular political
dialogue with Nigeria on human rights and democratic principles, including issues such
as ethnic, religious and racial discrimination;

  1. Deplores the terrorist attacks which have taken place in the country; reiterates its
    concern about the protracted crisis in Nigeria and the volatile security situation in the
    north-east, and strongly condemns the repeated violations of human rights, international
    and humanitarian law, whether based on religion or ethnicity;
  2. Condemns in particular the recent increase in violence against ethnic and religious
    communities, including the targeting of religious institutions and worshippers;
  3. Extends its condolences to the families of the victims, and expresses its solidarity with
    the Nigerian people, who have been suffering the effects of terrorism in the region for
    over a decade;
  4. Urges the Nigerian authorities to guarantee respect for human rights in the country, and
    to protect the civilian population from terrorism and violence; insists that such efforts
    must be conducted in full accordance with respect for human rights and the rule of law,
    in line with the country’s international obligations;
  5. Considers any form of extermination of human beings or ethnic cleansing barbaric and a
    crime against humanity; urges the Nigerian Government to address the root causes of
    violence by ensuring equal rights for all citizens and non-discrimination legislation;
    insists, in this regard, on the need to further promote inter-religious dialogue and the
    peaceful coexistence of citizens irrespective of their religion, engaging with all relevant
    stakeholders, including the Nigerian Inter-religious Council;
  6. Recalls that women and children are most vulnerable to the effects of conflict, terrorism
    and violence in the country; deplores the fact that children are increasingly recruited by
    terrorist groups and used as child soldiers or suicide bombers;
  7. Is deeply worried by the reports of ill-treatment of children detained in military
    facilities; calls on the Nigerian authorities to allow the UN access to its military
    detention facilities, sign a formal handover protocol to ensure that children detained by
    the military are quickly transferred to appropriate child protection authorities, and to
    end military detention of children; insists that the counter-terrorism response, as well as
    the judiciary and law-enforcement framework, should be tailored to protect the rights of
    the most vulnerable populations, including children;
  8. Reminds the Nigerian authorities of their obligation to protect the rights of children and
    to ensure protection and provide care to those affected by terrorism or conflict,
    including by ensuring their access to education; further recalls that education and
    economic opportunities are powerful tools against radicalisation, and urges international
    partners to support the provision of accessible, quality education as part of an antiterrorism
    strategy in the region;
  9. Is deeply concerned that Nigerian women continue to be victims of discrimination,
    violence, sexual abuse and rape; urges Nigeria to fully implement CEDAW; urges
    greater support for the victims of the widespread sexual and gender-based violence,
    including psychological support;
  10. Stresses that the fight against impunity is fundamental to the stability of the country and
    the building of lasting peace; calls, therefore, on the Nigerian authorities to conduct
    immediate, thorough and transparent investigations to bring perpetrators to justice and
    hold them accountable; further calls for measures to improve the capacity and
    independence of Nigeria’s judiciary system as a means to promote the effective use of
    criminal justice to combat violence, terrorism and corruption;
  11. Deplores that progress has stalled in the fight against Boko Haram, ISWAP and the
    increased occurrence and severity of suicide attacks and direct attacks against military
    positions; recalls that Nigeria’s President Buhari was re-elected in 2019 on the promise
    of defeating the violent extremism promoted by Boko Haram and other terror groups,
    and urges the President to implement his campaign promises;
  12. Supports the objectives of the Peace and Security Architecture Operations project led by
    the EU and ECOWAS; encourages strong Member State support to contribute to
    capacity building and conflict resolution in West Africa;
  13. Reaffirms its support for the regional Multinational Joint Task Force, and commends its
    efforts to effectively fight terrorism and restore stability in the Lake Chad region; recalls
    that terrorism knows no borders, and calls on the countries of the region to continue to
    coordinate their efforts to make the entire region secure;
  14. Encourages further security sector reform in Nigeria to strengthen the capacity of
    national and regional actors in combatting terrorism; calls on the European External
    Action Service (EEAS) and Member States to continue EU technical assistance in this
    field;
  15. Warns against an instrumentalisation of the farmers-herders conflict as a means to
    spread religion-based hatred; urges the Nigerian Government to implement the National
    Livestock Transformation Plan that aims to protect the interests of both farmers and
    pastoralists; believes that further steps are necessary, such as strengthening conflict
    mediation, resolution, reconciliation and peacebuilding mechanisms;
  16. Stresses the interdependence of development, democracy, human rights, good
    governance and security in the country; believes that military action alone is not
    sufficient to combat terrorism effectively; calls on the Nigerian Government to develop
    a comprehensive strategy that addresses the root causes of terrorism, by focusing on a
    preventive approach that aims to eliminate the appeal of terrorist ideology, curtail
    opportunities for recruitment and radicalisation, and cut off its funding, as well as by
    supporting and funding community-focused programs of civil society organisations;
  17. Calls on the EU, the African Union and the international community to step up their
    efforts in supporting the fight against terrorism in Nigeria, and pursue continued
    political and security assistance in the country, as well as the entire region;
  18. Is deeply concerned by the impact of the security situation in the country on the
    effectiveness of humanitarian and development aid; calls for the EU to continue to
    pursue its humanitarian and development efforts not only in Nigeria, but also the region
    as a whole; welcomes the additional EUR 50 million pledged by the EU in 2019 to
    support recovery and resilience in Nigeria;
  19. Acknowledges the pressures Nigeria and neighbouring countries are under from
    regional displacement; calls for increased support and donor coordination for the
    displaced population in Nigeria, including additional financial resources from the
    international community; recalls that development funds should not be diverted from
    their initial objective to eradicate poverty in all its forms;
  20. Condemns all attacks on humanitarian aid personnel or facilities, and urges measures to
    ensure the safety of aid workers and a secure environment for humanitarian
    organisations to carry out their essential work;
  21. Is extremely concerned at rapidly intensifying climate change and its impact on lives
    and livelihoods, particularly in the Middle Belt; reiterates that long-term solutions need
    to be found for protecting natural resources and ensuring access to them; recalls that
    tackling the climate emergency is a vital component of securing economic stability and
    peace in the region;
  22. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the
    European External Action Service, the Vice-President of the Commission / High
    Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the President and
    Parliament of Nigeria, the African Union, the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly,
    and the Pan-African Parliament.