World must support Boko Haram fight, UN rights council hears
The international community must step up to support countries facing attacks by Boko Haram militants, accused of a litany of atrocities, African nations told the UN Human Rights Council Wednesday.
In a draft resolution presented to the UN's top rights body, the group of African countries called on the international community "to provide an active and multifaceted support to Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria and other states affected by actions of the terrorist group Boko Haram."
The text, presented during a rare special council session, stressed that such assistance should be given upon request from the affected countries, "and in close collaboration with their respective governments."
African Union representative Pierre Buyoya, speaking on behalf of Mali and the Sahel region, warned that "the terrorist group is more than a regional threat, ... it is also a global threat."
Boko Haram's insurgency, aimed at creating a hardline Islamic state, has led to the deaths of at least 15,000 people since 2009, UN rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein told the council.
"Countless more children, women and men have been abducted, abused and forcibly recruited, and women and girls have been targeted for particularly horrific abuse, including sexual enslavement," he lamented.
"This despicable and wanton carnage, which constitutes a clear and urgent menace for development, peace and security, must be stopped," Zeid said.
He described devastating reports of children "frequently" used by the group "as its first line of attack, as expendable cannon fodder," saying "bodies of children around 12 years old have been found strewn across such battlefields."
He also expressed horror at the groups alleged repeated use of children as human bombs, stressing that if the reports were confirmed, many of the group's abuses constituted "war crimes and crimes against humanity".
Six years of Boko Haram violence has forced some 1.5 million people in northeastern Nigeria to flee their homes.
The group, which recently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, has also increased attacks in neighbouring countries.
The militants meanwhile appear to have been weakened by recent advances by the Nigerian military and its coalition partners Niger, Cameroon and Chad.
Although they are suspected of attacks during weekend elections in Nigeria won by former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari the insurgents were unable to disrupt the vote as they had planned, Mohammad ibn Chambas, the UN envoy for West Africa said Monday.
Zeid hailed the "peaceful" election, especially the turnout in the restive northeast.
"This vision of the people standing courageously against terror, despite reports of several attacks by Boko Haram, is an immense sign of hope," he said.
© 2015 AFP