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Seven women were trampled to death in northeast Nigeria on Thursday in a crush during a food distribution by the International Committee of the Red Cross, a medical worker and residents said.
Thousands of people thronged the distribution site in the town of Monguno in Borno State to receive aid from ICRC, but the situation turned chaotic, leading to a stampede, the sources said.
Monguno, about 140 kilometres (87 miles) north of the state capital Maiduguri, houses tens of thousands of internally displaced people who fled their homes to escape jihadist attacks and live in sprawling camps.
“We have taken dead bodies of seven women to the hospital along with four others who are critical,” anti-jihadist militia member, Bello Maikudi, said.
“There was a stampede as women jostled to collect food vouchers brought by the ICRC,” said Maikudi who was involved in the rescue operation.
Monguno resident Ibrahim Ismail gave the same toll and said it was an ICRC handout event.
Fatima Sator, ICRC spokeswoman in Nigeria, said the event was one of the agency’s routine distributions of nutrition for pregnant and breast-feeding women.
She did not give details on the number of casualties or the cause of the incident.
“We are concerned and shocked by the loss of the life,” Sator told AFP.
She said ICRC was offering assistance for those wounded.
A medical worker at the general hospital in Monguno confirmed receiving the casualties from the site.
“We have received seven dead bodies and four injured from the venue of the (food) ticket distribution,” the medical source said.
“All the victims are women. Two of the injured are pregnant,” said the medical source who asked not to be identified.
Displaced communities in Monguno live largely on food handouts from international charities.
Nigeria’s jihadist conflict has killed 40,000 people and forced around two million out of the homes since 2009.
The violence has spilled into parts of neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, creating a dire humanitarian crisis.
In February 2020, 20 people were trampled to death in a stampede for food and money for refugees in the southeastern Niger town of Diffa.