Boko Haram Must Be Stopped

Steven Katsineris with a call to curb Boko Haram. Steven Katsineris is an Australian freelance writer of articles on Palestine, Cyprus and the rest of the Middle East region, political prisoners and human rights, environmental and social issues. He has been actively involved in the Palestine solidarity movement for over forty years. Steven Katsineris lives with his family in Melbourne, Australia.

The brutal reign of terror by the extremist group Boko Haram continues in Northern Nigeria. In their latest attack Amnesty International reported that Boko Haram may have massacred up to 2,000 people in January this year in Baga, Nigeria. AI and Human Rights Watch say is its deadliest attack in six years of the extremist group’s insurgency. AI said witnesses and images backed up their view that the attack was Boko Haram’s largest and most destructive assault.

Nigeria’s war with Boko Haram is rapidly worsening. Over 10,000 people were killed in Nigeria in 2014 due to Boko Haram-related violence, primarily in northeast Nigeria, where the group has been able to seize and hold since last summer, a sizeable territory and population centres. Additionally, 1.6 million Nigerians have been displaced by the violence and around 160,000 people have fled to Cameroon, Chad and Niger. 

The conflict in Nigeria is supposedly a Muslim/Christian war, but Boko Haram is massacring many Muslims as well as Christians and the Nigerian army has a terrible human rights record against its own citizens. Underlying this crisis is also a violent divide between an oil-rich, corrupt, ruling elite and a poor, disenfranchised and neglected North. 

Around the world people were horrified by the most recent killings by Boko Haram fighters in Nigeria. It led to many humanitarian organizations urging the United Nations Security Council to issue a Presidential Statement and pass a resolution that includes measures to protect civilians, holding military forces accountable for human rights violations and other measures. 

International military advisers and Special Forces have already been sent in. But the UN should now prioritise a comprehensive plan that includes cleaning up and training security forces to contain Boko Haram; investing in the poorest regions; and prioritising an anti-corruption programme. 

For far too long the world has ignored this crisis as being too hard to solve. This cannot go on. The people of Nigeria and the rest of West Africa need help and support. It is time the world took action to end this cruel struggle. The escalating violence has renewed pressure to act. Nigerian politicians have so far failed their people and the international community has allowed this dire situation to deteriorate. The UN and the African Union should be doing more to stop Boko Haram’s atrocities. We cannot wait any longer and with enough backing, strong statements and action by the UN could begin to change things for the better. 

The vicious campaign of raids, massacres, bomb attacks and kidnappings by Boko Haram have already claimed at least 13,000 lives mostly in northern Nigeria. The crisis cannot be solved quickly, but it is just immoral to ignore it any longer. The global community must ensure the UN Security Council finally lays out a genuine plan for peace.

If we do nothing, thousands more will be killed and the Boko Haram threat will spread. This sort of terror has no borders, as recent events in various countries have shown. So let's keep building the pressure and push our leaders and the United Nations to organize an emergency Security Council meeting and urge them to make the solution of this conflict a priority.

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