UK boosts military support to help Nigeria defeat Boko Haram
London, May 3, 2019 (AltAfrica)-Britain is considering stepping up its military efforts to help the Nigerian government defeat Boko Haram, following a rise in terrorist activity in the country’s north-east in the past year, Jeremy Hunt has said after a visit to the region.
The UK foreign secretary said on Wednesday that he will be discussing what more the British government can do in terms of aid and military support to combat the terrorist group, warning the crisis had the potential to trigger a humanitarian catastrophe on the scale of that in Yemen.
Britain provides £240m in aid to Nigeria, of which £100m goes to the north-east, making it the second-largest donor after the US, and giving the UK a sizeable stake in what happens in the region.
Boko Haram and Islamic State in west Africa have terrorised the region for several years, but their activities came to the world’s attention when hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped in 2014.
British military personnel in Abuja and the wider region are giving strategic advice to Nigerian forces on how to run counterinsurgency operations, with their advice focused on combining humanitarian and military activities.
Hunt visited the World Food Programme’s warehouse in Maiduguri, Borno State capital, on the third day of his week-long trip to Africa, where he spoke to people providing life-saving support to millions who have fled their homes following attacks by terrorist groups.
He also met with the UK Military Liaison and Support Team, which is working with the Nigerian military.
Speaking in Maiduguri, Hunt said: “People are being forced from their homes by the evils of extremism and terrorism. Boko Haram and Islamic State are the antithesis of the values we all hold dear, and we will continue to support Nigeria in the fight to give people secure, prosperous and happy lives”.
The UK is providing a substantial and increasing package of security, humanitarian and development support.
This includes training and capacity building for Nigerian armed forces deploying in the North East. The UK has trained over 30,000 Nigerian troops in recent years.
As the second largest humanitarian donor, the UK government was one of the first to respond to the crisis, investing £300 million in live-saving aid over five years to reach over 1.5 million of the most vulnerable people.
UK support is also addressing root causes of the conflict, helping the Nigerian Government to deliver for its citizens in the longer term, including in health and education.
The UK-Nigeria Security and Defence Partnership, signed during the Prime Minister’s visit to the country in 2018, will increase the UK’s co-operation in the fight against terrorist groups and other security challenges.
Nigeria needs to plan for civilian-led stabilisation and development in areas where the military has ousted the terrorist groups.
Together with international partners, the UK has pledged to continue supporting Nigeria and its neighbours to tackle threats to regional stability. Agency