Pretoria: The United Nations Security Council has expressed its deep concern over the activities of the Islamist extremist group, Boko Haram, across northern Nigeria.
The Security Council says the group is undermining peace and stability in the West and Central African region.
“The Security Council demands that Boko Haram immediately and unequivocally cease all hostilities and all abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law and disarm and demobilise,” said Cristián Barros Melet, Chile’s Permanent Representative to the UN and President of the Council for the month of January.
In the statement issued on Monday, the Council also strongly condemned and deplored all abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law by Boko Haram since 2009, “including those involving violence against civilian populations, notably women and children”.
The Council demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all those abducted by the group, including the 276 schoolgirls kidnapped in Chibok, northern Nigeria, last April.
The UN body’s condemnation of the terrorist group follows Boko Haram’s recent suicide bombings on 10 and 11 January in the towns of Maiduguri and Potiskum as well as attacks in Baga, which resulted in the “massive destruction of civilian homes and significant civilian casualties”.
Initial accounts from the field indicate that girls, possibly one as young as 10, were forced to carry out the suicide attacks at marketplaces in Maiduguri and Potiskum, drawing international condemnation.
The UN human rights office emphasised last week that the use of a child to detonate a bomb was “not only morally repugnant but constitutes an egregious form of child exploitation under international law”.
Uniting against terrorism
The top UN envoy for Central Africa has welcomed Chad’s decision to send soldiers to Cameroon to help in the fight against Boko Haram.
This comes after several assaults on cross-border villages in northern Cameroon, which has raised fears that the insurgents are expanding their attacks.
According to media reports, some 80 people – many of them said to be children – were abducted yesterday in Cameroon in one of the biggest Boko Haram kidnappings to take place outside of Nigeria.
The Council statement also cited increasing attacks in the Lake Chad Basin region along Nigeria’s borders and noted overall that some of Boko Haram’s acts “may amount to crimes against humanity”.
Meanwhile, the surge in violence caused by Boko Haram has also unleashed a wave of fear across Nigeria and the wider region.
In northern Nigeria alone, over 900 000 people, many of them women and children, have fled their homes.
More than 300 schools have been severely damaged or destroyed and hundreds of children have been killed, injured or abducted from their homes and schools, according to a recent assessment by the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.
SOURCE: South African Official News