Global Fight Against Boko Haram
Saying that Boko Haram has devastating impact in Nigeria and the African region, the United Sates of America this week expressed its commitment to fight, to degrade and ultimately destroy the notorious extremist group.
In her remarks in Washington DC, US Assistant Secretary Linda Thomas-Greenfield, speaking for the Bureau of African Affairs, said defeating Boko Haram requires fighting this vicious group on many different levels, not just militarily.
“The fight cannot be won just on the battlefield.” – Ms. Greenfield
Integrated Approach Crucial to Counter Boko Haram
According to Ms. Greenfield, one of the effective approaches to fight Boko Haram is an integrated, inter-agency effort to help Nigeria and its neighbors in their effort to degrade and ultimately to defeat the extremist group.
This Strategy Has Several Focuses
One part of the strategy is enhancing the efforts of all of the affected countries to fight Boko Haram. Second, it includes weakening Boko Haram’s capacity, financing, and cohesion. The third focuses more on enhancing national, state, and local efforts to engage with civilians affected by Boko Haram. Fourth, it includes countering and preventing violent extremism. The fifth refers to the eradication of the underlying drivers of insecurity; and addressing the humanitarian needs of civilians affected by Boko Haram.
Though the battlefield remains challenging, good advances are being made in this matter as Boko Haram is being pushed back by the combined efforts and improved coordination among the Lake Chad Basin countries.
This effort can be reinforced by the US providing support to the Multinational Joint Task Force, which includes soldiers from Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and Benin.
on Security Assistance
According to Ms. Greenfield, the US and President Buhari have engaged in military leadership on a range of new and continued security assistance.
The US is slated to inaugurate the first round of U.S. training for an infantry battalion later this month.
“We have stepped up information-sharing efforts.” – Ms. Greenfield
At present, the US sent 90 U.S. Armed Forces personnel to Cameroon, and more are expected to be deployed, sending a total of 300.
The tasks of these soldiers include supporting the governments of Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria by providing airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations that help our African partners degrade and defeat Boko Haram.
Countering the Rise of Extremism
According to Ms. Greenfield, Nigeria and Lake Chad Basin countries must address the drivers of extremism that gave rise to Boko Haram.
Ms. Greenfield cited that among these drivers of extremism include weak, ineffective governance, corruption, lack of education, and lack of economic opportunities and jobs for the burgeoning young population.
“If youth in the region are not offered opportunities to contribute to their countries, they become susceptible to terrorism.” – Ms. Greenfield
It is helpful as well for the countries in the region to take individual and collective steps to back up their military successes with police and civil administration to maintain security, restore stability, provide much-needed basic services, establish rule of law and effective governance, and promote the economic development and job creation needed to break the cycle of violence.
Providing Humanitarian Assistance
As Boko Haram continues to terrorize the region, the US has been relentlessly providing humanitarian assistance to the victims of the rising extremism.
Across the region, in 2015 and 2016, the United States is providing more than $195 million in humanitarian assistance for Boko Haram-affected populations, including internally displaced persons and refugees.
This aid also includes a $20-million crisis education response that has already established nearly 300 informal learning centers for children of displaced families and their host communities.
In addition, for the US inter-agency effort to help African partners fight Boko Haram, the US is also working closely with its international partners, including the UK, France, the European Union, as well as the African Union.
Boko Haram Are Simple Murderers
Ms. Greenfield said Boko Haram’s savagery – murder, rape, kidnapping, enslavement, extortion, destruction – seemingly has no bounds or limits.
In addition, the members of that group use children in attacks, to bomb places of worship, both Muslim and Christian, and they bomb busy commercial centers and raid local communities.
“They are murderers – pure and simple murderers.” – Ms. Greenfield
The terrorist group is also having a devastating impact in Nigeria and the region.
Earlier this month, Boko Haram attacked the Nigerian village of Dalori and killed more than 65 people.
In addition, although Boko Haram started in Nigeria, its impact has spread throughout the region.
The group has also perpetrated their heinous crimes against the people of Cameroon, Niger, and Chad.
“There, as in Nigeria, civilians live in fear of the terror that Boko Haram has inflicted on their communities.” – Ms. Greenfield
Also, the conflict has created a major humanitarian crisis in the Lake Chad Basin, with some 2.4 million internally displaced people in the region and more than 180,000 Nigerians living as refugees in neighboring countries.
Connections with ISIS
According to Ms. Greenfield, Boko Haram’s connections to ISIS are worrisome and real.
In fact, the Boko Haram leaders declare their allegiance to ISIS. That is why there is a need to work together with all states in the region to prevent these ties from getting stronger and to break the ties that do exist.
“This is a global fight – it is not just a Nigerian fight.” – Ms. Greenfield
Sectarian Violence Escalated in Nigeria in 2012
Earlier in 2012, spiraling violence escalated in Nigeria as the terrorist group unleashed a series of attacks.
Boko Haram militants attacked several churches on Christmas Day, killing dozens of worshipers. The bombings occurred in Madala, on the outskirts of Abuja, the Nigerian capital, and in the north-eastern city of Jos.
The United Nations human rights chief, Navi Pillay, urged a bold effort by Nigeria’s political and religious leaders to halt the spiraling sectarian violence.
Boko Haram Means “Western Education Is Forbidden”
The Boko Haram militant group strongly opposes the introduction of western education in Africa. The group launched military operations in 2009 to create an Islamic state. Since then, they have staged deadly terrorist attacks that killed thousands of people.
In 2013, the US declared Boko Haram a terrorist group.