MSF: We were vaccinating displaced children when air force jet bombed Rann

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Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), an international humanitarian non-governmental organisation best known for its life-saving projects in war-torn regions, says its men were vaccinating children against measles and screening them for malnutrition when a Nigerian air force jet accidentally bombed an internally displaced persons camp in Rann, Borno state.

Lucky Irabor, theatre commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, had said the military received a report about the gathering of Boko Haram terrorists around Kala Balge area of Maiduguri, so he directed the air component of the operation to “address the problem”.

“Unfortunately, the strike was conducted but it turned out that other civilians were somewhere around the area and they were affected,” he lamented. So far, it is a little bit disturbing; death has occurred. There are casualties; there were deaths and injuries.”

MSF later condemned the accidental raid, saying “this large-scale attack on vulnerable people who have already fled from extreme violence is shocking and unacceptable”.

President Muhammdu Buhari later expressed his deep sadness and regret over the calamity, while Lai Mohammed, information minister, said the mistake was no true reflection of the air force’s professionalism.

Providing more updates on Wednesday, MSF its staff were not killed, although those of a firm it hired were not that lucky.

“No MSF staff members were wounded or killed in the attack. We have unfortunately received the sad information that three employees of a Cameroonian firm who was hired by MSF to provide water and sanitation services in the camp lost their lives during the attack,” Hugues Robert, MSF’s programme manager for Nigeria, said in a statement.

“Our deepest sympathy goes out to their families and we are doing all we can to support them in this difficult time. We have worked closely with them in the past in Nigeria and they were well-known to many of our teams. We are at a loss to understand this tragedy.

“An estimated 50 people were killed and 120 wounded in yesterday’s attack. Information is still unclear and we are doing our best to gather as much information as possible.

“At the time of the attack, MSF teams were vaccinating children against measles and screening them for malnutrition as well as providing general health consultations.”

MSF is the humanitarian organisation whose work is most critical to the prevention of death among malnourished children and other victims of insurgency.

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