The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon has suspended the operations of the UN Humanitarian Air Service following an attack in Damasak, a Borno town causing damage to an aid helicopter.

The attack which occurred on Thursday July 2, left three civilians killed including a child while many others were injured.

Sources say the attack was repelled by military forces, inflicting heavy injury on the insurgents who retreated shooting sporadically injuring civilians in the process.

Kallon revealed in a statement that a UN Humanitarian Air Service helicopter caught up in the cross fire was hit by bullets, causing serious damage.

He said: “I am gravely concerned by reports of another violent attack by non-state armed groups in Damasak, Borno State, on 2 July, in which at least two innocent civilians lost their lives, including a five-year old child. Several others were injured, and a humanitarian helicopter was hit, sustaining serious damage.”

Kallon wants the Government to investigate the attack and swiftly bring to justice the perpetrators.

“I deplore that a UN Humanitarian Air Service helicopter was hit by bullets during the attack. No aid workers were on board at the time and crew members are all safe. My thoughts are also with the crew and I commend them for piloting the chopper back to safety during this critical situation. “ Kallon stated.

The attack and damage to the helicopter severely affects the ability of aid actors to provide urgently needed assistance to vulnerable people in remote areas across Borno State.

“The UN Humanitarian Air Service is essential to evacuate wounded civilians and remains the backbone to facilitating humanitarian access, thereby enabling UN agencies and non-governmental organizations to safely and securely reach the most vulnerable populations. In 2019, UNHAS transported 66,271 passengers and 147 megatons of humanitarian assistance, as well as conducted 30 medical and 70 security evacuations.” The statement reads.

Kallon condemns attacks against civilians, humanitarian assets or aid workers and calls on all armed parties to respect war laws while urging all parties to allow and facilitate safe and unimpeded access for humanitarians to deliver life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable people in the north-east.

7.8 million people in the crisis-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, mostly living in remote area, are in need of Humanitarian aid, according to Kallon.