Boko Haram: 'A global threat requiring a global reaction'

MEPs have condemned the destruction of the Nigerian town of Baga by radical Islamist group Boko Haram.

By Jon Benton

Jon Benton is Political Engagement Manager at The Parliament Magazine

15 Jan 2015

The European parliament has condemned Boko Haram's destruction of the town of Baga in north-east Nigeria following reports that roughly 2000 people were killed along with numerous other human rights abuses including the use of children in bombing attacks.

The EU's external action service has also issued a statement on behalf of foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, who described the attacks as, "having led to the destruction of at least 16 villages and reportedly killed hundreds of people, displacing thousands".

S&D group leader Giovanni Pittella has called upon the EU to be the, "frontrunner in providing practical support to defending democracy in Nigeria"; this support would involve assisting with the next election and guaranteeing the effective use of EU development funds and strengthening democratic institutions.

"International media organisations have a moral duty to bring the situation in Nigeria to prominent public attention" - Matt Carthy GUE/NGL

Pittella also highlighted that, "The European Union and the international community should realise that we are facing a global threat, requiring a global reaction."

In a plenary debate, MEPs discussed the recent atrocities in Nigeria with the focus being on how to assist the Nigerian authorities in tackling Islamic extremism. However, many were critical of the Nigerian government's inaction and failure to tackle Boko Haram effectively.

Moreover, parliament's groups expressed their solidarity with the victims of the Boko Haram attacks. EPP group coordinator in parliament's development committee Davor Ivo Stier said "it is time to say 'Je suis Baga aussi'".

Stier called for a review and reform of the EU's development policy, explaining that it would be key to tackling new challenges such as terrorism and radicalism. He drew particular attention to poverty and hunger as underlying causes and highlighted that, "a large proportion of our development aid is being consumed by corruption in some states".

"The Nigerian state is not exempt from responsibility for the recent escalations of violence" - Matt Carthy GUE/NGL

MEPs also criticised press organisations for the lack of coverage of the crisis in Nigeria. GUE/NGL MEP Matt Carthy described how the "international media organisations have a moral duty to bring the situation in Nigeria to prominent public attention", if the causes of terrorism are to be eradicated. Many critics had questioned why the murder of 17 people in the Paris attacks gained more coverage than the killing of 2000 Nigerians.

Carthy was keen to draw attention to the systemic problems within Nigerian institutions that had exacerbated the situation as well. He argued that "the Nigerian government and state security forces were simply unfit to intervene" adding, "the Nigerian state is not exempt from responsibility for the recent escalations of violence".

He cited the incident of 950 suspected members of Boko Haram who died as a result of deplorable prison conditions and abuses by state authorities in early 2013 as examples.

MEPs have also called for an international inquiry into the massacre; while a resolution on the recent atrocities in northern Nigeria is to be voted on at parliament's February plenary session

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