The UN’s special representative for central Africa has called on increased international support in the struggle against Boko Haram, with thousands of Nigerians having fled and cross-border attacks on the rise.
“Deadly attacks by Boko Haram have gone beyond Nigeria’s borders and now constitute a threat for neighbouring countries,” Abdoulaye Bathily told reporters in the Gabon capital Libreville yesterday.
“Cameroon is one of the main victims,” he added, referring to Nigeria’s neighbour to the east.
Bathily said he was launching “an appeal to the international community to mobilise more in support of states’ efforts in the battle against this terrorist group, whose atrocities have caused a worrying stream of refugees in neighbouring countries.”
Between June and October, more than 17,000 Nigerians have arrived at a refugee camp in Minawao, northern Cameroon, he said.
Local officials and those from the UN refugee agency estimate between 4,000 and 5,000 new arrivals in the region each week, many of them women and children requiring immediate attention.
“If nothing is done urgently, it is very likely that a humanitarian disaster will follow that would further complicate the security challenges,” said Bathily.
Boko Haram’s five-year insurgency based in northeastern Nigeria has killed thousands and forced scores to flee their homes. Nigerian security forces have in turn been accused of major abuses, including extra-judicial killings and indiscriminate arrests.
The extremists have in recent weeks seized a growing amount of territory in Nigeria’s northeast. The group has claimed to be fighting for the creation of an Islamic state and for the release of detained members.