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Lake Chad Basin: UN raises humanitarian alarm; Italy, Boko Haram “serious threat to peace”

NEW YORK, JANUARY 12 – Briefing the Security Council today, senior United Nations officials underlined the significant challenges and deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Lake Chad Basin region, including in particular those posed by the militant group, Boko Haram, and urged for sustained support to national and regional security, political and humanitarian action.

“The humanitarian crisis across north-east Nigeria and parts of Cameroon, Chad and Niger, triggered by the horrendous, violent and inhuman campaign of Boko Haram, is deepening,” said UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien.

Since O’Brien’s last briefing (in July 2016), the crisis had further deepened and as a consequence, more than 10.7 million people were in need of assistance. Some 2.4 million people are currently displaced, with the vast majority among them – over 1.5 million – children. On top of these challenges, the region also faces a major food and nutrition crisis and despite the response of UN and other relief organizations, the number of severely food insecure people in need of assistance rose from about three million a year back to more than 7.1 million.

Italy fully supports the efforts of UNOCHA, the Italian Permanent Representative to the UN Sebastiano Cardi said: “Boko Haram keeps representing a serious threat to peace and security for its capacity to reshuffle its strategy and hit hard even now that it seems to have weakened”. Italy fully supports the ongoing efforts by the governments of the region in curbing the activities of Boko Haram and stand ready to support this endeavor both bilaterally and through the European Union.

Moreover, we are concerned by the numerous trafficking networks operating in the region”, Cardi said: “We cannot underestimate their ties with Boko Haram and transnational organized crimes activities. We should be resolute in tackling any instances of smuggling and especially human trafficking connected to this phenomenon”.

At the same briefing, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Tayé-Brook Zerihoun told the Security Council that despite military operations against Boko Haram, the militant group continued to threaten security and stability in the region, as illustrated in recent attacks over the last few days.

Mr. Zerihoun, however, expressed concern over alleged human rights violations, as well as breeches of humanitarian law, which reportedly accompanied Boko Haram attacks and counter-insurgency responses, including allegations of sexual violence, forced marriage and sexual slavery.

“The promotion and protection of the human rights of victims of terrorism must be a priority in national responses to acts of terrorism,” he stressed, adding: “Respect for due process and prompt trials for persons detained for Boko Haram related offences, especially children, who should be treated as victims and dealt with in accordance with international standards for juvenile justice, should guide broader counter-terrorism measure.”

Further, underlining that a military approach would not bring an end to Boko Haram, Mr. Zerihoun urged the affected countries to simultaneously tackle the humanitarian consequences and the root causes that led to the group’s emergence. “Military operations should be followed with stabilization measures, the restoration of state authority and addressing the social, economic and political grievances of marginalized communities,” he added.

To read Ambassador Cardi’s speech, click here. (@OnuItalia) 


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