ICRC appeals for release of abducted health workers, Leah Sharibu.

Leah Sharibu

ICRC appeals for release of abducted health workers, Leah Sharibu.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has appealed to Boko Haram and the Federal Government to ensure the safety of its humanitarian workers who have been abducted by the sect.

  The group is still holding Leah Sharibu, a 15-year-old student, who was also taken from her school in Dapchi in February, and everything should be done to ensure she is released promptly and unharmed.

  ICRC’s pleas come as Boko Haram’s ultimatum to the government to accede to their demands draws nearer.

  It stated that the ICRC was making an urgent public appeal to the Nigerian government, communities, and individuals with influence to work towards the release of two committed medical workers abducted in the Northeast earlier this year.

   The ICRC also pointed out that speed and urgency were critical, saying: “A deadline that could result in the killing of another health-care worker is less than 24 hours away.”

   To the holder of the kidnapped women – Islamic State’s West African Province Group (ISWAP) – the ICRC urged the group to have mercy, adding: “We urge you to not kill another innocent healthcare worker who was helping the community in Northeast Nigeria.”

 Head of ICRC’s Operations in the Lake Chad Basin, Mamadou Sow, said: Hauwa Mohammed Liman worked in a hospital supported by the ICRC when she was abducted on March 1, 2018 with Alice Loksha, a nurse who worked in a center supported by UNICEF.

   “Hauwa and Alice are medical workers who chose to work and help vulnerable communities in Rann, an area heavily affected by violence.

  “The population of the town has more than doubled because of the conflict, while most local healthcare staff have fled. These women were providing essential and life-saving services to thousands of people, displaced and resident alike. All they sought to do was help.”

   Insurgents had last month killed a third healthcare worker who was abducted alongside Hauwa and Alice, ICRC’s colleague, Saifura Hussaini Ahmed Khorsa.

  The ICRC asks those involved to do everything they could to avoid a repeat of that devastating outcome.

    Director of ICRC Operations in Africa, Patricia Danzi said: “We urge you to spare their lives and release the women. They are a midwife, a nurse, and a student. Like all those abducted, they are not part of any fight.

  “They are daughters and sisters, one is a mother – women with their future ahead of them, children to raise and families to return to.”

  Meanwhile, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, yesterday assured the families of Leah and two abducted aid workers that the Federal Government would leave no stones unturned to secure their release.