The Head, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Nigeria, Martin Griffiths, has said that the terrorist group, Boko Haram, and its offshoot, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), are still “very, very dangerous (and) very threatening.”
Griffiths also has urged the world not to take attention away from the terrorism-ravaged North East region of Nigeria, noting that the zone needs not less than $1 billion in aid this year.
According to him, the funds are needed to provide food and health care for the millions of people displaced and to those who remain in their homes but are vulnerable to attacks.
Griffiths, who spoke in an interview with The Associated Press in Abuja, noted that victims of the decade-long insurgency in the North-East were in serious need of humanitarian support, urging the world not to forget the continuing devastation being caused by the terrorists that have killed several thousands of residents and displaced millions.
“This is a very different kind of operation and very difficult also to deter … a grave, clear and present danger, obviously, to the people and a priority for the government,” Griffiths said, adding that “the world needs to remember this is a tragedy that needs to be sorted out.”
Boko Haram, Nigeria’s homegrown Islamic extremist rebels, launched an insurgency in the country’s North-East in 2009, to fight against western education and to establish Islamic Shariah law in Nigeria. Their rebellion has spread over the years to neighbouring West African countries of Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
Boko Haram drew international condemnation in 2014 when they abducted 276 schoolgirls in Chibok village, prompting the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. More than 100 of those abducted students are still missing.
Nigeria’s fight against extremists “can’t be won on the battlefield,” said the U.N. official, who urged more community development efforts.
The conflict has resulted in approximately 35,000 deaths, according to the U.N. Development Programme. For each casualty, “an additional nine people, primarily children, have lost their lives due to lack of food and resources,” the U.N. agency estimated in a report in June 2021.
Nigeria’s military continues to try to quell the violence, especially in Northeastern Borno State and the Lake Chad region, but the conflict has continued year after year.
Griffiths said it would take more than a military approach to defeat terrorism in the region.