In spite of the gloom created by the seven years of Boko Haram insurgency, there is hope for the Lake Chad Basin region, the UN Security Council has said.
The President of the Security Council for the month of March, Amb. Matthew Rycroft, made the remarks during a press briefing on the Council’s just-concluded mission to the region.
Rycroft said the visit had afforded the 15-member body to appreciate the level of degradation caused by the Boko Haram terrorists in the region.
“If I was talking to you about security in the Lake Chad Basin last Tuesday, I would have spoken about how 20,000 people have been killed and how 2.3 million are currently displaced.
“What I couldn’t have told you was the stories, the lives behind these numbers; the human cost of the fragile security situation.
“Last Friday, in Maroua, in northern Cameroon, I saw that cost in the eyes of a 15 year-old boy whose village was attacked by Boko Haram.
“He hid for days. Most of his friends had already been killed. I saw that cost in the eyes of a woman crying with her baby in her arms.
“I saw it in others who spoke of the murder of their husbands and sons, the kidnapping of their daughters, and the burning of their homes.
“We heard from civil society how women were selling their bodies for sex just to eat.
“All these people brought home the horrifying consequences of the chaos and insecurity wrought by Boko Haram,” he said.
He said, however, that together, the Council’s 15 members brought some much needed focus to suffering that has been neglected for too long.
“But amid the horror, we also heard of the bravery and commitment of the people of the region as they try to bring stability and security back to the Lake Chad Basin.
“And in many ways it’s working; it’s undeniable that significant progress has been made in combating Boko Haram’s reign of terror. We heard chapters from a success story on its way to completion.
“Stories from the Multi-National Joint Task Force of liberating 20,000 hostages and successfully winning back territory that will act as future homes for the people of the region,” he said.
Rycroft explained that the Boko Haram threat is not over adding, security is not yet entrenched; it is fragile in too many places.
“Force commanders and generals outlined continued attacks. Suicide bombings and IEDs are still far too common.
“And Boko Haram’s tactics are getting more barbaric – mothers turned into suicide bombers with infants strapped to them in addition to their bombs.
“Boko Haram members are down, but they’re not out yet. And make no mistake, their cruelty knows no bounds. It was clear that international support remains vital for this fight.”
He called for the provision of psycho-social services for Boko Haram defectors to enable reintegration without stigmatization.
Rycroft commended the bravery and resilience of the escaped Chibok schoolgirls and thousands of other women freed from Boko Haram savagery.
“I met three inspirational young women from Chibok who were attending an International Women’s Day event at the UN.
“Far from being victims, far from being survivors, they are now campaigners for education for women and girls in poverty.
“Despite everything they had endured, despite being caught up in the hell unleashed by Boko Haram, they are determined to look to the future.
“They showed what lies ahead. They showed a future possible when the fighting ends, when the guns fall silent, when security stops being a word and starts becoming a reality.
“To achieve this reality, it’s clear that there can be no military solution: only a comprehensive approach will bring stability and peace.
“And so let me reiterate that the UK will stand side by side with the region and affected people in this effort,” the UK Permanent Representative to the UN, said.