The United Nations Security Council has demanded that the Boko Haram terrorists “immediately and unequivocally cease all violence and all abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law” in the Lake Chad Basin, as Nigeria hosted a regional security summit in Abuja on Saturday .
The high-level council also welcomed the crucial initiative of President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria to convene the Second Regional Security Summit yesterday in Abuja, to evaluate the regional response to the threat posed by the Boko Haram insurgents.
Through a Presidential statement, the Council also expressed deep concern at the alarming scale of the humanitarian crisis caused by the activities of the terrorist group in the Lake Chad Basin region, which continued to undermine the peace and stability of the West and Central African region.
The Council strongly condemned all terrorist attacks, abuses of human rights and violations of humanitarian law by the group in the region, including those involving killings and other violence against civilians, notably women and children, abductions, rape, sexual slavery and other sexual violence, recruitment and use of children, and destruction of property.
Concerned by reported violations and abuses of human rights and large-scale displacement of the civilian population across the Lake Chad Basin region as a result of Boko Haram’s activities, the Council also demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all those abducted who remain in captivity, including 219 schoolgirls abducted in Chibok, Borno state, Nigeria in April 2014 among the reported thousands of others held captive by Boko Haram.
“The Security Council recognises that some of such acts may amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes [and] stresses that those responsible for these abuses and violations of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law must be held accountable and brought to justice,” the statement stressed.
As for the “alarming scale” of the region’s humanitarian crisis, Council members recalled that there are now more than 2.2 million Nigerians, and over 450,000 internally-displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees in neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
Moreover, an estimated 4.2 million people in the Lake Chad Basin region face a food security crisis, including 800,000 in Nigeria’s northern staes of Borno and Yobe, where an estimated 184 children a day risk starvation without the immediate provision of emergency food assistance.
While commending the support and assistance extended to the displaced population by the global community, particularly the people and governments of the Lake Chad Basin region, including humanitarian actors and relevant UN entities, the Council urged the international community to immediately support the provision of urgent relief assistance for the people most affected by the crisis in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.
Indeed, approximately 10 per cent of the $531 million required to fulfill such assistance has been received this year, noted the Council.
Further in the Statement, the Council commended the important territorial advances by the governments of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria against Boko Haram, ithrough the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) headquartered in N’Djamena, Chad.
The Council also urged the Member States participating in the MNJTF to further enhance regional military cooperation and coordination, particularly to consolidate military gains, deny safe haven to Boko Haram, allow humanitarian access and facilitate the restoration of the rule of law in liberated areas.
“The Security Council underscores the importance of a holistic approach to degrade and defeat Boko Haram that includes coordinated security operations, conducted in accordance with applicable international law, as well as enhanced civilian efforts to improve governance and promote economic growth in the affected areas,” the statement stressed.
Council Members further urged countries in the Lake Chad Basin to complement the regional military and security operations against the group by national and regional efforts, with the assistance of bilateral partners and multilateral organisations, to improve livelihoods, provide humanitarian assistance to displaced people, facilitate stabilisation efforts, reconstruction, development and economic recovery.