About 565 people might have been killed by the explosive remnants of the militant group Boko Haram in Nigeria’s restive northeast region in 2018, according to a report by the United Nations anti-mine agency released on Thursday.
Lionel Pechera, a program coordinator of the United Nations Mines Action Service (UNMAS), disclosed this at a campaign to mark the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram.
Pechera said the presence of explosive hazards was a barrier to accessing the majority of land for agricultural activities, which in turn increased food insecurity in the northeast area.
Some of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) areas were highly contaminated by explosives, indiscriminately injuring, maiming and killing civilians, said Pechera.
The given figure was believed to represent only a portion of the actual number of incidents, he noted, saying that a large part of the territories in the country’s northeast region was inaccessible.
The mine awareness and assistance in mine action campaign has become imperative to protect lives and property as well as support the voluntary return of the IDPs to their homes, the UN official said.
The long-term impact of the mine threats could jeopardize efforts of the Nigerian government and humanists to return the IDPs to their communities, he said, adding that there is a need to expand humanitarian mine action operations.
Boko Haram’s insurgency has killed more than 20,000 people since 2009 and left over 2.6 million people homeless.
The extremist group, which is also active in Chad, Niger and northern Cameroon, announced its allegiance to the Islamic State group in 2015.