On a recent trip to the Lake Chad Basin, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power spoke out about the growing threat of the terrorist group Boko Haram. On a stop in Cameroon, she announced nearly $40 million in new humanitarian assistance to support people throughout the region whose lives have been devastated by Boko Haram violence.
An estimated 9.2 million people are suffering displacement, deprivation, and disease from the consequences of armed conflict in the Lake Chad Basin region. Seven million of those in need are in Nigeria, including 2.2 million internally displaced persons. As a result of the prolonged crisis, communities who have generously hosted IDPs have also exhausted their resources. There are nearly 170,000 Nigerian refugees who have fled to Cameroon, Chad, and Niger – countries whose citizens have also suffered from Boko Haram attacks and consequent displacement. This new funding brings the total U.S. humanitarian assistance for the Lake Chad Basin region to more than $237 million over the last two years.
Assistance will allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to provide Nigerian refugees with access to clean water and sanitation facilities, health care, essential household items, shelter, programs which protect children, and activities to prevent and respond to gender-based violence.
Boko Haram has killed as many as 20,000 people. Last year alone, the terrorist group launched 159 suicide bombings, more than half in Nigeria. A new report by UNICEF states that Boko Haram increasingly uses girls to set off explosives.
Ambassador Power stressed that defeating Boko Haram cannot be done through a military response alone. Governments in the region, she said, must “understand the centrality of political inclusion and economic development to the long-term ability to keep Boko Haram not just out of territory, but to defeat Boko Haram in the long-term.”
This requires a comprehensive strategy, said Ambassador Power, “one that includes respect for human rights, political inclusion, economic development, and of course, physical security provided by the police and on the borders by military forces.”
The United States stands with all who are fighting the terrorist scourge of Boko Haram and urges other donor countries to join in responding to the humanitarian crisis.