Abuja (IINA) – Regional and Western leaders, who gathered in Nigeria’s capital for talks on Boko Haram threat, concluded Saturday that the extremist group was forced to retreat from areas around Lake Chad, but urged the international community to do more financially and militarily to eliminate the group and help people who are suffering from worrisome humanitarian situation.
French President Francois Hollande said Boko Haram remains a threat despite impressive military gains against it. “The results (of the counter-insurgency) are impressive” and the rebels had been “diminished and forced to retreat”, he told a news conference in Abuja. But added: “This terrorist group nevertheless remains a threat.”
The summit came to an end with a statement stressing that defeating this insurgency is not based solely on a military solution, but also on a government’s developmental move to address the root reasons.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said earlier that “much more besides” a military strategy and a coordinated regional force was needed.
Countries hit by the violence had to win “the hearts and minds of those terrorized by Boko Haram” as the conflict was “a generational struggle against an evil that will destroy us if we do not destroy it,” he said. “We must sustain this fight until evil is defeated and good prevails,” he added.
The summit brought together leaders of eleven countries in the African continent, including countries bordering Nigeria (Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger), as well as EU Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini, and representatives from France, Britain and the United States.
The summit discussed ways to end Boko Haram’s insurgency which has killed an estimated 20,000 people and forced more than 2.6 million others to flee their homes since 2009. It also discussed the actual deployment of a much-delayed 8,500-member regional force from Nigeria and neighboring countries to combat the terrorist group.