The senior United Nations envoy in Central Africa today welcomed Chad’s decision to send soldiers to Cameroon to help in the fight against Boko Haram, on the heels of several assaults on cross-border villages in northern Cameroon, which have raised fears that the insurgents are expanding their attacks.
According to media reports, some 80 people – many of them said to be children – were abducted yesterday in Cameroon in one of the biggest Boko Haram kidnappings to take place outside of Nigeria. Some of those abducted are believed to have been freed by the Cameroon’s army today.
“I deplore this situation. It shows the need for greater efforts to support Cameroon’s commendable efforts in the fight against Boko Haram,” said Mr. Abdoulaye Bathily, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA).
Calling Chad’s decision to deploy troops to Cameroon a ‘remarkable initiative,’ the Special Representative said it was also important for Chad whose economy and security continue to be threatened by repeated attacks by Boko Haram.
“I congratulate the Chadian authorities for their strong commitment in the fight against terrorism in Central Africa and beyond,” he said in a statement from his office in Gabon’s capital of Libreville.
Mr. Bathily commended the international community and countries in Africa that are supporting the fight against Boko Haram militants. He encouraged all States in the Lake Chad Basin and Central Africa to strengthen their cooperation, especially with Nigeria, to provide a regional and coordinated response to this ‘dangerous cancer.’
In addition, Mr. Bathily expressed support for the steps taken by the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), in particular its actions ‘to seize the high authorities’ of the Council of Peace and Security in Central Africa (COPAX) to support Cameroon and eliminate the threat of Boko Haram.
“Boko Haram is a serious threat to peace, security and stability in West Africa and Central regions, but also against the economy and social basic services in the affected areas,” reiterated the Special Representative.
As for Boko Haram, Mr. Bathily urged the extremists to immediately cease their attacks and release all those they have kidnapped. He expressed particular concern for the plight of women and children who have been ‘unjustifiably abducted.’
Thus far, Boko Haram’s ‘criminal activities’ have caused some 36,000 Nigerians to flee to Cameroon’s far north region.