As Nigeria's Joint Task Force continues to intensify efforts to bring the insurgency in northern parts of the country to an end, the United Nations has explained why the Nigerian government cannot fight the insurgency alone.
Making the statement on Wednesday in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, was Hiroute Guebre Sellassie, the UN envoy for the Sahel region.
According to Sellassie, Nigeria must accept that it cannot defeat Boko Haram fighters alone, and work with regional armies in a new multinational force.
This comes after Nigerian security officials, including the national security adviser, Sambo Dasuki, a few weeks ago ruled out the need for a United Nations or African Union-backed force to fight Boko Haram, saying the country and its partners could handle the threat.
More than 13,000 people have been killed and more than one million made homeless by Boko Haram violence since 2009.
“Nigeria cannot handle the problem alone, Boko Haram is not only confined to Nigeria,” Sellassie told AFP in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, where the African Union is preparing for leaders of the 54-member bloc to hold a summit on Friday.
“We see a flood of refugees to Niger, Cameroon and even Chad,” she added, warning of a possible training camp in northern Mali.
“The Sahel is increasingly affected,” she said.
Nigeria has the largest army in West Africa, but has come under criticism at home and abroad for failing to stop the advance of Boko Haram.
The AU is expected to discuss a proposed regional force of some 3,000 troops that would include soldiers from Nigeria, Niger, Benin, Chad and Cameroon.
“It is time to take action and to be aware of the danger of Boko Haram for the entire African continent,” Sellassie added.
Only on Monday, AU chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma stated that she was “deeply horrified” at the rise of Boko Haram, warning that the group is“not just a threat to some countries but a threat to the whole continent.”
Dlamini-Zuma said she would call on AU leaders for “renewed collective African efforts” to tackle the insurgents.
President Goodluck Jonathan last week in Lagos said Nigeria was delighted with the international community’s agreement on the multinational task force initiative in combating the Boko Haram insurgency.
This was announced in Abuja by Reuben Abati, the special adviser to the president on media and publicity.
“We are pleased that the international community is now strongly united behind this initiative and agree that its success is critical.
“It is equally important that the multinational force receives the significant support that is required to address the threat through our global partners,” he said.