On the third anniversary of the abduction of the Chibok school girls, the UK government on Friday restated its commitment to support Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram and terrorism.
The assurance was contained in a goodwill message to the Nigerian government by the UK Foreign Office Minister, Tobias Ellwood, and the International Development Minister counterpart, James Wharton.
“Our thoughts are with the Chibok girls who remain missing, their families and all those abducted by Boko Haram. We are working side by side with Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram and call for the release of all those who have been taken.
“During our visits to Nigeria last year, we heard how people’s lives have been devastated by Boko Haram. We are committed to supporting Nigeria in the fight against these barbaric terrorists. More than 22,500 Nigeria military personnel have received UK training, with a significant number deployed on counter insurgency operations in north-east Nigeria.
“Lasting stability and security requires all parties to work together to address the long-term causes of the conflict, and the empowerment of women and girls must be at the heart of this process. The UK was one of the first to respond to the humanitarian crisis in north-east Nigeria, and continues to reach millions of people who have been forced from their homes with lifesaving support to improve education, nutrition and basic health services to stop people dying from starvation and hunger.
“We will not be deterred from supporting Nigeria to tackle violent extremism and build peace for the people of north-east Nigeria.”
Since 2014, the UK government said it significantly increased its support to Nigeria to help fight against Boko Haram.
The support was through the provision of a substantial package of military, intelligence and development support.
Apart from contributing £5 million to the Multi National Joint Task Force, a regional force against Boko Haram, comprising troops from Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Chad and Benin, the UK government also provided £74 million last year.
The fund was for emergency food, shelter and health care for hundreds of thousands of people displaced by Boko Haram’s violent insurgency.
Besides, one of its development agencies, the Department for International Development, DFID,significantly increased its humanitarian support from £1 million in 2014 to £74 million last year, the government said.
In health, the UK government said DFID also supported the International Committee of the Red Cross, who have helped restore basic health care services for over 500,000 people affected by conflict, provided 150,000 immunisations for children and enabled over 20,000 women to give birth safely.
In 2016 alone, it said the agency reached over a million people with food and provided 34,000 children suffering from malnutrition with lifesaving treatment.
In education, DFID said it also supported access to education for over 25,000 marginalised children in the north-east.
The beneficiaries included girls, through an innovative approach that engages government, community members and religious leaders to introduce the teaching of literacy in the local language, numeracy and basic science alongside Quranic education in 200 “Integrated Quranic schools” (IQS).
“DFID supported research suggesting strong demand from communities affected by the conflict with Boko Haram to expand this approach,” the UK government said.