The attacks in Monguno and Nganzai in Nigeria’s Borno State on Saturday are the latest example of the deadly toll the conflict has on civilians. Dozens of people were killed and injured, many of them women and children, and humanitarian infrastructure was destroyed.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), with the support from the Nigeria Red Cross Society, evacuated 16 wounded civilians, including four women, by helicopter on Sunday to its surgical facility at Maiduguri State Hospital for care. One of the patients sadly passed away upon arrival. The other 15 were treated Sunday and Monday and are now in recovery.
“This tragic attack is a stark reminder that the conflict in north-east Nigeria cannot be forgotten amidst the pandemic,” said Markus Dolder, the ICRC’s head of sub-delegation in Maiduguri. “Violence continues to drive suffering, death, and displacement, all while our ability to respond is made more complicated by COVID-19.”
- The influx of patients injured in the attack adds an additional stress to health care facilities in Monguno that were weakened by the protracted armed conflict and struggle to prepare for the pandemic. Our team in Monguno received reports that a local hospital ran out of essential items to stabilize patients, such as tramadol, gauze and bandages. Among patients treated in Monguno hospital, there are women and young children.
- Treating mass casualties is more complicated amidst COVID-19 as hospital beds need to be spaced out to reduce the risk of spreading the disease. The surge in patients yesterday made it extremely difficult for the ICRC to ensure physical distancing in the ward.
- Many of the civilians injured and killed in the attack were already uprooted from their homes because of conflict and had been enduring hardship in Monguno for many years.
- Sixteen wounded civilians, including four women, were evacuated by the ICRC on two helicopter rotations on Sunday. One died in transit. The other 15 received medical treatment and are now recovering at Maiduguri State Hospital.
- Approximately 10,300 people with weapon injuries, many of them blast wounds, received surgical care from the ICRC in 2019 at Maiduguri State Hospital.
The ICRC is supporting a primary health care center in a displacement camp in Monguno. The clinic was caught in the crossfire during the Saturday attack after surviving a fire that spread in the camp two weeks earlier.