The worship auditorium of Living Faith Church Damaturu, destroyed by Boko Haram in 2011. (World Watch Monitor)

Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen have between them claimed at least 26,000 lives in northeast Nigeria since 2009, says the UN, as Nigerian newspaper This Day reports.

According to a UN representative in Nigeria, civilians continue to bear the brunt of the conflict, through widespread displacement, abuse and violations of international laws.

Edward Kallon was speaking in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state – the epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency – on Friday, World Humanitarian Day.

He said men, women and children face grave humanitarian rights violations, including sexual and gender-based violence, on a daily basis.

The nine-year insurgency has forced thousands of families to flee their villages and communities in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.

Aid and medical workers have been among those killed. In March, three aid workers were killed and three others abducted in Rann, Borno state; another aid worker was killed in Ngala, also in Borno, in May; and a member of the National Emergency Management Agency was killed in Damasak, Borno, just last week, lamented the UN official.

Meanwhile a recent UN report submitted to the Security Council Committee has revealed that kidnapping for ransom remains one of the main sources of funding for Boko Haram activities.

“The predominance in the region of the cash economy, without controls, is conducive to terrorist groups funded by extortion, charitable donations, smuggling, remittances and kidnapping,” says the report.

“In Nigeria, 111 schoolgirls from the town of Dapchi [Borno] were kidnapped on 18 February 2018 and released by ISWAP [Islamic State West Africa Province] on 21 March 2018 in exchange for a large ransom payment.”

But the Nigerian government denied the claim. “It is not enough to say that Nigeria paid a ransom, little or huge,” said Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, in a statement on Thursday. “There must be a [sic] conclusive evidence to support such claim. Without that, the claim remains what it is: a mere conjecture,” he added.