The governor of the Nigerian state most devastated by Boko Haram’s Islamic uprising is accusing some U.N. and international aid agencies of misusing funds meant for refugees.
Borno Gov. Kashim Shettima claimed the UN has spent $50 million on unnecessary bulletproof cars. A spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Nigeria, Orla Fagan, said the vehicles were provided by donors, not funds for refugees. A UNICEF armored car saved the lives of several aid workers when Boko Haram attacked it with a rocket and sprayed it with gunfire in July.
“I was quite amazed that about $334 million was spent on Borno state but, mind you, out of that maybe $50 million was used to procure bulletproof vehicles,” Shettima said. “If you give me something with one hand and you turn to collect it with another hand, why are you saying you have given me anything?”
Shettima made the accusations at a meeting Friday with a director of the U.N. Population Fund. The Associated Press got a transcript on Monday.
The governor made no mention of allegations, being investigated in the Senate, that Nigerian state agencies are stealing food aid in Maiduguri meant for refugees in camps where people are starving.
Instead, Shettima said more than 500 U.N. workers had invaded Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, and that their presence and expenditures are “questionable” given their lack of impact on some of the 2 million refugees there.
Fagan, the U.N. spokeswoman, said 200 international U.N. staff there “travel out every day to areas that have become recently accessible to the humanitarian community.” She said another 250 international staff from private aid agencies also are based in Maiduguri.
The United Nations says half a million people are starving in dangerous-to-reach parts of Borno state. But even in accessible Maiduguri, the AP has reported that child refugees are dying of malnutrition.
“Where a colossal amount of money is purportedly spent on our people, and we are not seeing the positive impact on our people, is something that is questionable,” Shettima said, demanding that relevant authorities “justify whatever they say they are expending on Borno state.”
He added: “Boko Haram is adjudged the deadliest terrorist organization in the world, but are we getting the required support from the international community? The answer is no!”
He noted the European Union is offering Turkey $2 billion to curb civil unrest. “It is because they don’t want the influx of refugees into their country,” he said. Shettima compared international aid and attention given to Syria, noting it is a country of 23 million people compared to Nigeria’s nearly 200 million.