By Harry Awurumibe, State House, Abuja
President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Mr. Peter Maurer has said that International humanitarian law more relevant in Nigeria today than ever. He made this statement at the State House, Presidential Villa Abuja when he met today with the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari. This meeting follows a two-day visit of Mr. Maurer to Maiduguri and Monguno. “The suffering of hundreds of thousands of people who have been displaced several times due to the armed conflict is alarming. “As August 2019 marked the 70th Anniversary of the universally ratified Geneva Conventions, the meeting highlighted how international humanitarian law (IHL) is more relevant than ever in Nigeria today.President Maurer highlighted the commitment of the ICRC to continue alleviating the suffering of the people affected by the armed conflict in the North-East, by delivering humanitarian relief and fostering an environment for an increasing respect of international humanitarian law. “At the heart of IHL lies the protection of civilians, of detainees, of the wounded and sick and other not participating in hostilities. In Nigeria, the authorities have taken several steps – ICRC has provided support to some, such as the strengthening of IHL training for the military – to improve respect for IHL. These efforts and other efforts need to be sustained and amplified. Full respect for the law requires effective mechanisms at the domestic level to ensure incidents are investigated and perpetrators held accountable”. Mr. Maurer also stressed upon the need for the ICRC to engage with all stakeholders to be able to carry out its neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian action. Said he “The essence of the ICRC’s role as a guardian of the Geneva Convention is to talk to all parties to armed conflicts. This does not confer any legitimacy on any party. It means we do our utmost to ensure a minimum of humanity in war.” As a result of ICRC’s engagement in Nigeria, since January 2019 over 258,000 people from areas affected by armed violence got access to health care and over 640,000 received food or agricultural support. During the same period, over 22,000 detainees were visited.