“The humanitarian crisis in Nigeria’s northeast is one of the most severe in the world today,” Edward Kallon, the agency’s humanitarian coordinator for Nigeria, said in a statement. “I am extremely concerned that these actions could be detrimental to the critical work that is being carried out every day to support the most vulnerable in the region, and I call upon the government of Nigeria to provide clarification.”
On Friday afternoon, the Nigerian military released a statement saying that the raid had no specific target.
Soldiers have been raiding various areas inside and outside Maiduguri to search for bomb-making materials and insurgents and, acting on a tip, raided the area of the United Nations camp and 30 houses nearby, according to the military statement. The camp “did not carry a U.N. designation,” according to the statement from the military. No arrests were made during the raids.
“The command wishes to assure the general public that these operations are being conducted to safeguard lives and properties but not targeted at any individual or group,” the statement said.
Friday’s raid triggered numerous rumors, including one that Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, had been arrested at the United Nations camp. It was circulated so widely that the governor of Borno State called for the arrest of a man thought to have originated the rumor.
Nigeria has been in a state of political anxiety for weeks as it awaits the return of President Muhammadu Buhari, who traveled to London in May for medical treatment for a mysterious illness.
The United Nations was not allowed to operate in war-torn areas of Nigeria until the battle with Boko Haram had been going on for a few years. The humanitarian crisis has pushed people into camps lacking sanitation and ample food and water supplies.
The military, which has long been accused of numerous civil rights abuses, provides escorts for humanitarians heading into the tightly controlled countryside. About 50 organizations operate in the region now.
Nigeria has said repeatedly that it has defeated Boko Haram, a group of insurgents that has carried out kidnappings, bombings and murders throughout the northeast portion of Nigeria, as well as in areas across the borders of Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
The military has made major progress in beating back the group, raiding its forest hide-outs and seizing terrain once controlled by militants. The government…