United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the decision by the African Union (AU) to join forces to stop the advancement of what he termed the “murderous campaigns” waged by Nigeria’s Islamist group calling itself Boko Haram.
In a speech during the closing ceremony of the AU summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, Mr Ban stressed the importance of the continent’s collaboration with the UN, emphasizing that “lives depend on preventive-diplomacy and peacekeeping.” The leaders of the continent’s 54 nations have been in Addis to discuss daunting challenges that included the growing threat of Boko Haram. In a communique issued at the end of their summit, African leaders pledged to join forces to fight the terror group which has in recent weeks attacked villages in Cameroon, displacing thousands to neighbouring countries and sparking fears that its insurgency was expanding beyond Nigeria.
Speaking to reporters today, the UN chief said he supported the AU’s plan to fight the terror group with the establishment of a Multinational Joint Task Force, which must remain consistent with UN human rights due diligence policies. “The murderous campaign waged by Boko Haram demands stronger and more coordinated action from us all,” he said. “Regional and international efforts must focus on protecting communities in northern Nigeria and across borders. More than a million internally displaced people and refugees must be able to return home,” the Secretary-General added, reiterating his call for the immediate release of those who have been abducted, particularly the more than 200 girls abducted from Chibok.
He went on to add that collaboration on peace and security was essential to the UN’s partnership with the AU in that more than 80 per cent of UN peacekeepers are deployed on the continent. Mr. Ban said that through the UN-AU partnership, progress had been made in Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Mali, Somalia and South Sudan. More, however, could be done by working “even more closely together”.
Commending the AU for being on the ‘front lines’ of fighting the Ebola epidemic, the UN Secretary General said such close partnership had paid off in the fight against the Ebola. He however warned that while efforts against Ebola are paying off the end to the disease was far from over. “We must continue to demonstrate the same solidarity until Ebola is gone from every country, and throughout the next phase of recovery,” the UN chief said.