AU’s 7,500-Army to Fight Boko Haram
The African Union has endorsed a plan to set up a regional task force of 7,500 to fight Boko Haram militants, a senior official said, in a key step towards securing UN Security Council backing.
Neighbors Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Chad and Benin agreed earlier this month to call on the African Union (AU) to seek UN Security Council support for their plan to take on Boko Haram insurgents, who are fighting to establish their state in northern Nigeria.
“We are thinking of a force of 7,500 women and men. The next step is to submit (approval) to the UN Security Council,” Smail Chergui, the commissioner of the AU’s Peace and Security Council, told reporters.
Boko Haram has made incursions into neighboring Cameroon and threatens the stability of a region that includes Niger and Chad. More than 13,000 people have been killed and more than one million made homeless by Boko Haram violence since 2009, France24 reported.
“Boko Haram’s horrendous abuses, unspeakable cruelty, total disregard for human lives, and wanton destruction of property are unmatched,” AU Commission Chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said in a statement.
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. Tensions with its neighbours have so far hindered attempts at coordinated action.
Earlier this month Nigerian security officials 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.