Accessibility links

Breaking News

Nigerian Military Bans, Lifts Ban on UNICEF Within Hours

FILE - A banner with the UNICEF logo hangs on a makeshift school at an internally displaced persons camp on the outskirts of Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria, June 6, 2017.

The Nigerian military lifted a ban on UNICEF activities in the northeast of the country hours after suspending the agency and accusing it of spying for Islamist militants in the restive region.

Earlier Friday, the Nigerian military said there was "credible information" that some representatives of the United Nations children's agency were training and deploying spies who support Boko Haram insurgents and their sympathizers. It said it was suspending UNICEF operations for three months.

Later Friday, military officials met with aid agency representatives and afterward announced the ban had been revoked. Army spokesman Onyema Nwachukwu said military officials told UNICEF to stop activities that hurt "national security" and that undermine the fight against terrorism.

The military said it urged "UNICEF representatives to ensure they share information with relevant authorities whenever induction or training of new staff is being conducted in the theater.”

Boko Haram sparks crisis

Nigeria's restive northeast has been the center of Boko Haram's Islamist insurgency, which has left around 30,000 people dead and tens of thousands of others driven from their homes. The violence has triggered a humanitarian crisis in the wider Lake Chad region and left the area largely dependent on international aid.

Amnesty International condemned the original suspension Friday, saying it was "part of a wider drive to intimidate international humanitarian and human rights organizations who are working to save lives in this devastating conflict."