Humanitarian CrisesNews

Updated: Aid Worker’s Abductors Announce His Death Using His Facebook Page

A series of disturbing posts were made on the Facebook page of a humanitarian worker abducted by the terror group, Islamic State West African Provence (ISWAP), on Friday.

ISWAP is a splinter group of Boko Haram. Both groups are waging a bloody insurgency against Nigeria and neighbouring Lake Chad Basin countries.

The post on Emmanuel Peter Birdling’s Facebook page was a message urging his family not to worry because he was already dead. This paper could, however, not confirm if this claim was true.

The first post was a black picture, which was subsequently followed hours later by a text.

On Friday, ISWAP’s news outlet claimed the abduction of one person working for the Red Cross at a checkpoint on the Maiduguri-Mainok Road. HumAngle believes the incident was the same as the one earlier reported by the paper.

HumAngle, on Thursday, reported the abduction of an aid worker with one of the international humanitarian agencies along Damaturu-Maiduguri Road.

Additionally, sources have indicated that Emmanuel was intercepted and abducted by ISWAP during a non-official trip.

The aid worker, who is an employee of the World Food Programme, was on a private trip to Maiduguri from Damaturu, Yobe State, when the incident happened. He was abducted alongside another commuter whose identity has yet to be verified.

According to sources, the abductors have used the mobile phones of the abductees to send disturbing messages to random contacts.

The Maiduguri-Damaturu Road, the only route that is considered safe to Maiduguri is now as dangerous as other routes that have been closed intermittently.

There are daily interceptions of passengers and attacks on security forces on the highway by terrorists.

Several off and on duty humanitarian workers have been abducted in the past by ISWAP along several routes within the state, forcing many humanitarian operations to close down across the region.

Aid workers abducted by insurgents have suffered different fates, while some have been released others have been executed or being kept interminably in captivity.

HumAngle understands that ISWAP often wrongly describes the affiliation of abductees who work for humanitarian organisations. Owing to an obsession with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), there have been several occasions in the past where the group tagged victims as Red Cross employees though they worked for other non-governmental organisations.


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Murtala Abdullahi

Abdullahi Murtala is a researcher and reporter. His expertise is in conflict reporting, climate and environmental justice, and charting the security trends in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. He founded the Goro Initiative and contributes to dialogues, publications and think-tanks that report on climate change and human security. He tweets via @murtalaibin

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