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Scores of civilians dead, UN chief condemns ‘appalling’ attacks in Nigeria  

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Internally displaced mothers and their children attend a WFP famine assessment in Borno State, Nigeria.

The Secretary-General, António Guterres, strongly condemned on Monday the “appalling” attacks perpetrated over the weekend in Nigeria’s Zamfara State in which scores of civilians were killed.  

According to news agencies, an estimated 200 people were killed and 10,000 displaced in attacks by armed bandits, following military air raids on their hideouts last week. 

In a statement, the UN chief extended his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims, urging the Nigerian authorities to “spare no effort in bringing those responsible for these heinous crimes to justice.” 

Mr. Guterres also reaffirmed the solidarity and support of the United Nations to the Government and people of Nigeria, in their fight against terrorism, violent extremism and organized crime.  

Rise in abductions and violent crimes 

Northwest Nigeria has seen a sharp rise in mass abductions and other violent crimes since late 2020. 

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In April 2021, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) warned that years of insecurity have created a massive humanitarian emergency in the Lake Chad basin and uprooted some 3.3 million people and, in October, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) warned that displaced families in this part of the country were “knocking on the door of starvation”.  

Approximately 4.4 million people were facing acute food insecurity in the conflict-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. More than one million children were already malnourished.  

Also last year, following a series of attacks and abductions in schools, more than a dozen UN-appointed independent experts warned that too little was being done to help the teenagers left traumatized, and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) representative in the country, Peter Hawkins, explained that such incidents have become “a way of life” to many.  

Bandits hoping to make quick cash by forcing the families and authorities to pay ransom money their hostages, often target institutions just out of reach of State control and usually in rural areas. 

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