By Enyichukwu Enemanna
International aid group Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) says it has commenced partial evacuation of its staff in Zamfara, North West Nigeria, over escalating fighting between bandits and the country’s security forces.
The MSF on Friday said some of its staff will be withdrawn from Zurmi town, where clashes occurred around the local hospital.
“Faced with important security risks, MSF medical teams on the ground had to evacuate part of its staff and are unable to function optimally,” the agency said in a statement.
The activities of bandits in the region who attack communities, loot villages and carry out mass kidnappings for ransom, including school children, has amplified the humanitarian needs in the state bordering Niger Republic.
A spokesman of the aid agency said six non-essential international staff were evacuated while other international and national foreign staff remained.
Governor of the state, Dauda Lawal had on social media said he was concerned about recent bandit attacks in the Zurmi, Maru, and Tsafe districts of Zamfara.
“Some of the patients refuse to leave the hospital out of fear,” Adjide Hermann, MSF deputy field coordinator in Zurmi, said in the statement, referring to victims of bandit attacks.
“We had no choice but to reduce part of our team.”
Zamfara is one of several northwestern states struggling with banditry.
Without any known ideology, bandits in North West region have displaced many communities, causing the farming population to flee, a development that has increased food inflation in the West African country.
The Boko Haram terror organisation has since 2009 operated in the North East, displacing over million people, a group that has denounced western education as “evil” despite fighting with sophisticated weapons.