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Hauwa Liman: One death too many!

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On Monday 15th October 2018, Nigeria, and indeed the world at large, was greeted with the news of the gruesome murder of an aid worker – a nurse with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) – Hauwa Liman.

Hauwa Liman was executed by Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP),  a faction of Boko Haram. Before the execution, ISWAP had given Monday 15th as the deadline for her execution. Several well meaning individuals and International Organisations, including ICRC, had made passionate appeals to ISWAP to halt the planned execution of the health worker.

Hauwa Liman worked in a medical facility supported by ICRC. She was kidnapped on 01 March 2018 with Alice Loksha, a nurse who worked in a centre supported by UNICEF in Rann, Borno State. Rann is one of the communities most hit by the activities of Boko Hram in the North-East.

“Hauwa and Alice are medical workers who chose to work and help vulnerable communities in Rann, an area heavily affected by violence”, Mamadou Sow, the head of ICRC’s Operations in the Lake Chad Basin said, in earlier appeal made to the ISWAP before her execution

 “The town’s population has more than doubled because of the conflict, while most local health-care 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.”

This is not the first time an aid worker would be executed by Boko Haram. Another health care worker that was abducted alongside Hauwa and Alice – ICRC colleague Saifura Hussaini Ahmed Khorsa – was killed by her abductors in September this year. 

This made the execution of Hauwa even more painful as appeals had been made to the government of Nigeria to do all within its powers to save the girls. It is pertinent to mention that the same group is also holding Leah Sharibu, the lone Dapchi School girl, who was taken back into custody by Boko Haram for failing to renounce her Christian faith, when others kidnapped with her were freed.

The kidnapping and killing of aid workers working in humanitarian settings have raised questions as to whether the Nigerian government and the international community are doing enough, first to secure medical facilities where health workers work, and then in engaging with their abductors, to avoid this type of scenario – avoidable killing of promising and innocent health workers.

On its path, the government of Nigeria had said it did its best to prevent the murder of Hauwa. The Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, while reacting to the killing in a statement released in London through his Special Adviser said:

“It is very unfortunate that it has come to this. Before and after the deadline issued by her abductors, the Federal Government did everything any responsible government should do to save the aid worker.

“As we have been doing since these young women were abducted, we kept the line of negotiations open all through. In all the negotiations, we acted in the best interest of the women and the country as a whole.

”We are deeply pained by this killing, just like we were by the recent killing of the first aid worker. However, we will keep the negotiations open and continue to work to free the innocent women who remain in the custody of their abductors.”

Undoubtedly, the conversation around the killings of aid workers and particularly, that of Hauwa, will surely continue for a long time. To this end, we have aggregated such conversations around the world into a single platform so that you can be a part of it. This is the right thing to do for an aid worker that all she “sought to do was to help”!