Boko Haram crisis: UK Increase military aid in Nigeria
The UK has offered to increase its military and educational aid to help Nigeria tackle Boko Haram, Foreign Secretary William Hague told BBC reporters.
He said Nigeria’s army would receive extra training, especially in counter-insurgency tactics, while a million more children would be given schooling.
This is the latest promise of Western help since Boko Haram abducted some the Chibok schoolgirls in April.
Since then the Islamist group has stepped up its attacks. Boko Haram has waged an increasingly bloody insurgency since 2009 in an attempt to create an Islamic state in Nigeria. Thousands of people have died in their attacks and the subsequent security crackdown.
The promise of extra training in counter-insurgency will be welcomed by the Nigerian authorities but it will take some time for this to have any impact on the ground. There is no quick fix to this conflict that has brewed and boiled for years now. The US is already giving similar training. New equipment is also needed, as well as more troops in the north-east, where the attacks are relentless.
Improving education is seen as key to improving long-term stability there. British taxpayers are already helping improve the quality of education on offer in the north, where around 11 million children do not get a mainstream education – many attend Koranic schools where education is mostly religious. But again it will take time for this assistance to make any difference.
People in the villages near Chibok need help today. They talk of being abandoned by government and are sick and tired of running to hide in the bushes every night – they want to be given guns to defend themselves.
Mr. Hague stressed that human rights must be respected in the operation against the militant group.
Human rights groups have accused Nigeria’s army of killing hundreds of civilians in crackdowns following Boko Haram attacks.
The British foreign secretary also insisted that the extra aid must be spent effectively. There have been reports of corruption in the military.
He said the extra assistance would be provided in conjunction with France and the US, and that Nigeria, Chad, Benin, Niger, Cameroon had confirmed they would put into operation a regional intelligence fusion unit – to “tighten the net” around Boko Haram.
The meeting took place on the sidelines of the London summit on ending sexual violence in conflict, co-hosted by Mr Hague and UN special envoy and actress Angelina Jolie.
It follows last month’s summit in Paris where regional powers pledged to co-ordinate action against the group.
Earlier, Niger’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Bazoum defended the slow progress in the fight against Boko Haram.
He told the BBC Focus on Africa radio programme that measures such as sharing intelligence and setting up a new regional headquarters for aircraft involved in surveillance and possibly “operations in the field” took time. This is to be set up in Chad’s capital, N’Djamena, he said.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in May 2013 in the three northern states where Boko Haram is most active – Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
The militants retaliated by stepping up their bombing campaign in cities and raiding small towns and villages.