The death toll from Nigeria’s accidental bombing of a refugee camp is much worse than first reported

Death toll in the Rann bombing has reportedly shot up to over 200 within a week.
Death toll in the Rann bombing has reportedly shot up to over 200 within a week.
Image: (Courtesy of Doctors Without Borders (MSF))
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In a tragic error last week, Nigeria’s air force killed tens of civilians living at a refugee camp in Rann, a border town close to Cameroon in Nigeria’s northeast. While Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), a humanitarian aid agency active in the region, pegged initial casualty figures at 52 people, new reports suggest the death toll is much higher than initially reported.

After a week, the true scale of the tragedy is starting to emerge as the death toll has increased to 236 people, BBC reports. The increase in the death toll is likely down to the lack of quality health infrastructure in Rann, despite relief interventions by international aid agencies who continue to treat injured persons.

Temie Giwa-Tunbosun, founder of LifeBank, a health start-up that’s focused on improving access to blood bank databases as well as transporting blood to those in need, buttresses the sentiment. “It’s likely injured victims didn’t get access to aid and emergency services like blood. In cases like this, people who should have lived won’t survive because we don’t have a proper health system ,” Giwa-Tunbosun told Quartz.

 At the time of the bombing, MSF reported that over 120 people were injured. The camp is estimated to hold up to 40,000 internally displaced people who fled their homes in fear of Boko Haram attacks.

The army, while taking responsibility for its actions, said the error was down to intelligence reports which suggested the presence of Boko Haram fighters in the area. Nigeria’s presidency also issued condolence statements for the victims of the attack which it described as a “regrettable operational mistake.”

But regardless, the tragic killing has drawn widespread criticism and calls for more transparency as to how the military could have erroneously bombed a refugee camp . ”The victims of this horrifying event deserve a transparent account of what happened and the circumstances in which this attack took place,” Bruno Jochum, MSF general director, said in a statement.