Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 February 2015
The Council of the European Union has issued a clear and strong statement on the appalling atrocities and violence perpetrated by the terrorist group – Boko Haram in Nigeria, as well as their threat to governments and civilians in the sub-region.
The Council stresses the importance of an urgent, comprehensive response to the insurgency, to prevent further terrorist and criminal acts perpetrated by Boko Haram, including stronger governance and economic development.
Recalling the European Union’s (EU) Statement of 19 January 2015 and its Conclusions of 12 May 2014, the Council condemns the continuing violence and appalling atrocities committed by Boko Haram on civilians, including women and children.
It expresses its sincere condolences to the people and governments of countries affected. The perpetrators of these gross violations of international humanitarian law, human rights and dignity must be held to account.
The international community cannot rest while such outrages are being committed and stands united against such acts of cruelty, says the council.
This is what the statement said:
The Council is particularly concerned about the humanitarian consequences of the attacks and their impact on Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger and recalls the primary responsibility of States to protect civilians on their territory in accordance with the obligations under international law. Thousands have been killed.
Over one and a half million people have been displaced within Nigeria and hundreds of thousands to neighbouring countries. Families have been separated, girls abducted, children orphaned and women and girls sexually abused.
The EU pledges to continue providing immediate relief to those in need and to increase its efforts at regional level. It commends the work of humanitarian agencies in delivering such relief and encourages them to scale-up their presence.
At the same time, the Council underlines the need of the Nigerian government to increase the response to the urgent humanitarian crisis caused by the Boko Haram insurgency and recalls the EU’s readiness to assist.
International humanitarian efforts should be appropriately coordinated by the United Nations (UN) in order to enhance delivery capacity and prevent the refugee crisis from escalating out of control.
The European Union notes that the responsibility to address the immediate security challenges lies primarily with the countries most affected, and calls upon them to urgently intensify their cooperation and coordination.
In this respect, it commends the Chadian army’s recent assistance to the Cameroonian forces already engaged in the fight against Boko Haram.
The Council welcomes and supports the decision of the States in the region, endorsed by the African Union (AU), to deploy a multinational force, to be endorsed by the UN Security Council, once the concept of operations is finalised.
In this regard it salutes the AU preparatory meeting that was held in Yaoundé from 5 to 7 February.
It also welcomes actions already undertaken under the aegis of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, following high-level security conferences held in Paris, London, Abuja and Niamey since May 2014.
The EU stands ready with its partners – the UN, the AU, regional organisations, the individual States concerned as well as the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum (GCTF) – to provide support to the region with its full range of instruments, including the possibility of recourse to the African Peace Facility and EU crisis management tools.
The EU will also look at ways to help the countries concerned strengthen their own capacities to handle the challenge, including the root causes of the radicalisation and violence, whilst encouraging intergovernmental cooperation among them.
The Council emphasises that the crisis can only be overcome when all forces concerned abide by international humanitarian law, human rights and refugee law and practices in support of the communities they are tasked to protect.
At the same time, the Council reaffirms its determination to assist Nigeria at the national and local level as well as other countries affected in their efforts to promote the sustainable economic development of the Lake Chad region, fight corruption, provide the social and educational needs of its population and meet up with the aspirations of their young people.
The Council invites the HR and the Commission to take forward appropriate actions and propose necessary decisions, notably on the basis of a Political Framework for Crisis Approach (PFCA), including an assessment of the needs of the countries affected by the menace of Boko Haram.
The PFCA should include a gender perspective. The Council will remain closely involved in this issue and will revert when necessary.