The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is shocked by the deaths of civilians and six aid workers from the Nigerian Red Cross following an airstrike on the town of Rann, near the border of Nigeria and Cameroon.
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of our six colleagues and shocked that an incident of this magnitude has occurred in a civilian area," said Mr Bolaji Akpan Anani, president of the Nigerian Red Cross Society. "Our hearts and prayers are with the bereaved and the wounded as we remain undaunted and focused on our commitment to those who need help."
The six Red Cross workers were in Rann as part of a humanitarian operation bringing food to more than 25,000 displaced people.
Hours after Tuesday's airstrike, a surgical team from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) deployed to Rann, while another ICRC surgical team in Maiduguri prepared to support the Ministry of Health in receiving casualties. The team in Rann triaged around 100 patients, while nine patients in a critical condition were evacuated by helicopter to Maiduguri on Tuesday. Around 90 patients remain in Rann, out of whom 46 are severely injured and need to be evacuated to Maiduguri as a matter of urgency. Patients are attended to in an open-air space in a precarious environment.
"We started medical work in Rann shortly after the incident. The conditions for post-operative care are not adequate, so all the patients must be evacuated to Maiduguri as soon as possible," said Dr Laurent Singa, an ICRC surgeon in Rann.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement extends its heartfelt condolences to the families of all those killed or injured, including those affiliated to the Médecins Sans Frontières.
"It is unacceptable that so many civilians were killed and wounded. All measures must be put in place to ensure that such a tragic incident never happens again. We stand committed to continue providing humanitarian assistance to the people affected by the conflict in north-eastern Nigeria," said Eloi Fillion, head of the ICRC delegation in Nigeria.
The Movement reminds everyone that aid workers must be able to operate safely and be allowed to deliver vital assistance where it is needed, without fear of losing their lives. Parties to the conflict must comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure that civilians are not affected by the hostilities.
For further information, please contact:
Nwakpa O. Nwakpa, Nigerian Red Cross Society, tel: +234 803 473 62 00, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Aleksandra Matijevic Mosimann, ICRC Abuja, tel: +234 706 418 90 02 or +234 703 595 41 68
Jason Straziuso, ICRC Nairobi, tel: +254 733 622 026
Elodie Schindler, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 21 86 or +41 79 217 32 17
Benoit Matsha-Carpentier, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 46 96 or +41 79 213 2413