Boko Haram Operating Without Restrictions in N-East – Us Envoy

The US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, has said that Boko Haram was operating freely in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria and had shown that it could operate not only in the area, but also in Kano, Abuja and elsewhere.

Speaking on Thursday during the Third Session of the Regional Security Working Group of the Nigeria-United States Bi-national Commission, in Abuja, the envoy said the frequency and scope of Boko Haram’s terror attacks had grown more acute since August 2013, when the commission last met.

Thomas-Greenfield, stated that the United States was troubled by the capture of Bama, Borno State, noting that the conflict had affected the lives of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people in the Lake Chad region.

Cameroon’s military, she  added, is increasingly forced to fight Boko Haram within its borders and “they flee back into Nigeria without fear.”

She said, “Since we last met in August 2013, the frequency and scope of Boko Haram’s terror attacks have grown more acute and constitute a serious threat to this country’s overall security.

“Boko Haram has shown that it can operate not only in the Northeast, but in Kano, in Abuja, and elsewhere.  We are very troubled by the apparent capture of Bama and the prospects for an attack on and in Maiduguri, which would impose a tremendous toll on the civilian population.  This is a sober reality check for all of us.  We are past time for denial and pride.”

According to her, despite the collective efforts against the insurgency, the situation on the ground is worsening.

“Cameroon’s military is increasingly forced to fight Boko Haram within its borders and they flee back into Nigeria without fear.  The Chibok schoolgirls and others remain hostages, enduring horrible and tragic suffering.

“Abubakar Shekau’s bold announcement that Boko Haram is now governing a “caliphate” only adds to the perception that the security situation is steadily worsening.  All of these developments are deeply disturbing, and increasingly dangerous with each passing day,” she stated.

The diplomat said that in order to combat the insecurity in Nigeria, President Barrack Obama launched a major security initiative to support Nigeria and the region under the Security Governance Initiative at the recent U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington.

She explained that the partnership would help  both sides to work together to identify the problem and design the solution.

“The United States is close to announcing the launch of a major border security program under our Global Security Contingency Fund, which will include Nigeria and its neighbors Cameroon, Chad, and Niger,” the envoy stated.

Thomas-Greenfield said that her country had continued to provide technical training to military and police forces engaged in the fight against Boko Haram, adding that the US was providing advanced training to a Nigerian infantry battalion.

She said, “The United States is especially concerned about the more than 700,000 internally displaced persons and reports that those numbers continue to increase.  We are deeply troubled by the risks to their personal security and their economic livelihoods as well as the implications on food security.

“We are concerned about their ability as citizens to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming elections.  The fabric of too many communities is becoming unwoven under the unrelenting pressure of this threat.”

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