Boko Haram succeeded in raiding an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Dalori, Borno State, on Wednesday night because the soldiers manning the place took to their heels the moment the insurgents arrived in their scores, SaharaReporters has been told.
For two hours on Saturday, the camp, which hosts 12,600 civilians seeking refuge there after having fled the violence in north-east, came under heavy attack, at the end of which at least eight people were killed and some women abducted.
Speaking very briefly with SaharaReporters on Monday, a displaced person who witnessed the attack said the soldiers were outnumbered and would likely have all been killed had they stayed back.
“That camp is close to Dalori 1 and it’s on Bama Road. It is not far from Maiduguri even though it’s in Konduga Local Government; it’s still Maiduguri. Therefore, we all thought we were safe,” said the IDP.
“There are soldiers, Police, Immigrations and Civil Defence officials all in the camp, yet those Boko Haram guys entered the camp, burnt the tent, burnt the village adjacent the camp and even a checkpoint in that area. Those BH guys ran their operation for two hours, from 7:30pm to about 9:30pm. The Army only showed up after 10:00pm.
“The soldiers ran away. Even the Police, Civil Defence and Immigrations officials in that area, they all ran away. In fact, the soldiers took off before the IDPs. The soldiers were not plenty; they were not more than 10, so really I would not blame them. However, the BH guys were so many — probably close to 100. But the soldiers are not to blame; they were simply outnumbered.”
SaharaReporters also understands that the attack shook the international humanitarian community; since the camp is in state capital, there is now heightened worry about the safety of aid workers — particularly in the light of Boko Haram’s recent murder of healthcare workers it kidnapped earlier in the year.
After the attack, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) issued a statement asking the Nigerian government to “improve on its duty of protecting the people from such hostilities”.
“Boko Haram carried out the attack on the camp adjacent to Dalori village and on four surrounding communities after dark, killing at least eight people and injuring dozens more, kidnapping women, and burning and looting homes, shelters and food stocks. Hundreds have also been displaced as a result, according to the National Emergency Management Agency,” read the statement, issued by Samantha Newport, OCHA’s Head of Communication, on behalf of Edward Kallon, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria.
“I urge the Government of Nigeria to step up the protection of innocent people. Attacks on camps for internally displaced people threaten these innocent women, children and men who have already fled their homes as a result of the ongoing conflict.”
More than 20 aid organisations are providing assistance including food, safe water, sanitation, medicine and shelter to thousands of people in the north-east.