All through history, people have been displaced as a result of war, famine, earthquake, flood and other natural disasters. Instinctively, victims of such happenstance have always sought shelter in safer places far removed from the troubled spots. Such places are known as Internally Displaced People’s (IDPs) camps.
It is however regrettable that an accidental airstrike bomb an IDP Camp on 17 January, 2017 in Rann Community under Kalabalge Local Government Area of Borno State. The incident has elicited sympathy from the local and international audiences.
The bombing from a jet of Nigerian Air Force (NAF) killed over 100 IDPs, including humanitarian aid workers in the area. In an effort to address the carnage, the government has set up a committee to investigate the incident and submit its report. The chairman of the panel is Chief of Standards and Evaluation of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), Air Vice Marshal Salihu Bala-Ribah.
In a statement by the spokesperson of NAF, Group Captain Ayodele Famuyiwa, it stated that the military seeks to prevent similar occurrences from happening in the future. The board was therefore mandated to ascertain the “immediate and remote causes as well as the circumstances that led to the incident.”
Prior to the time of incident, the Federal Government had organized a guided aerial tour of the North-East, especially the Sambisa forest, the strong-hold of the Boko Haram insurgents. The government had invited and took members of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) advocacy group on the guided tour in a military operational flight in search of the missing Chibok girls before the incident.
The delegation appreciated the efforts of the military of their operations in the North. They made the comment after they visited NAF Command Centre in Yola and witnessed firsthand the efforts being made to search for the girls by the military. They later joined the day and night sorties with the airforce to the Sambisa Forest.
As much as we may have reservation and even criticisms over over Rann Airstrike involving the NAF aircraft, we should note that our airforce pilots have ensured the defeat Boko Haram terror groups by enhanced coordination and synergy with other services, including the Nigerian Army, the Navy and other security and intelligence agencies especially through proper aerial monitoring and effective control.
The Nigerian Airforce also deserves commendation for its various humanitarian efforts and assistance to the IDPs. The NAF’s wide range humanitarian support missions in conjunction with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Commission for Refugee Migrants and other stakeholders are obvious in the affected areas. It complements the efforts of humanitarian agencies in air transportation of their works and their goods, especially food and drugs to remotest areas and camps.
Apart from providing air protection and transporting other staffs, NAF has also executed humanitarian services for the IDPs. For instance, through its Corporate Socoila Responsibility (CSR), NAF established emergency hospitals and field hospitals in selected communities to cater for the healthcare needs of IDPs in the North-East. Some of the services include the provision water borehole, schools’ facilities and empowerment working tools.
While we must appreciate activities of humanitarian responders, groups and spirited individuals for valuable support towards overcoming the humanitarian crisis in the North-East, the Nigerian military, especially the Airforce too should be recognized for the role they played in ensuring peace and security in the face of daunting challenges.