The UN Human Rights Council yesterday unanimously adopted a resolution calling on the international community to step up support to African countries fighting Boko Haram militants, accused of a litany of atrocities.
The resolution urged the international community “to provide more active and multifaceted support for Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria and other states affected by actions of the terrorist group Boko Haram.”
High-level Nigerian foreign ministry official Danjuma Nanpon Sheni however stressed to the council that his country could not fight the militants on its own.
“We are dealing with faceless monsters,” he said.
African Union representative Pierre Buyoya also warned that “the terrorist group is more than a regional threat, it is also a global threat.”
“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.
Cameroonian Foreign Minister Pierre Moukoko Mbonjo told the council his country had been under attack by the militants for nearly a year.
Boko Haram’s “massive” crimes “deserve to be condemned in an unequivocal manner,” he said.
Chadian Justice and Human Rights Minister Mahamat Issa Halikimi agreed, describing the Islamist group as “a relentless enemy who lets nothing get in the way of its objective to destabilise our countries.”
Wednesday’s resolution, which was presented during a rare special council session, called on the international community to, among other things, support the African Union’s five-nation Multinational Joint Task Force fighting Boko Haram militants, by providing technical assistance.
It also stressed the need to ensure that the “perpetrators of heinous crimes committed by the terrorist group Boko Haram are held accountable.”
Zeid 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, including the case of a “14-year-old girl carrying a baby on her back who detonated a bomb in a marketplace.”
If the reports are confirmed, many of the group’s abuses constitute “war crimes and crimes against humanity”, he said.
“Boko Haram’s brutality and barbarism are without bounds,” US ambassador Keith Harper told the council, insisting “its brutality will stiffen our resolve, (and its) inhumanity will unite us, the world community.”
Wednesday’s resolution also urged Nigeria and other affected countries to “protect human rights while fighting terrorism.”
“Any serious allegations of violations committed in the fight against Boko Haram must be the subject of independent investigations,” French Ambassador Nicolas Niemtchinow told the council.