"Tackling Boko Haram Demands New Approach" – US Envoy

"Tackling Boko Haram Demands New Approach" – US Envoy

United States Ambassador to Nigeria Terence McCulley has said the Nigerian government should adopt a multi-pronged approach in dealing with Boko Haram insurgency.

McCulley said this on Thursday, during a telephone conference call with journalists from four locations in West Africa.

Responding to a question on whether the military action in Mali was having an effect on the Boko Haram insurgency, the envoy said, "The Boko Haram phenomenon has not stopped as a result of the operation going on in northern Mali. I do believe that Nigerians feel that there is a link between extremist activity in the Sahel and in their internal extremist insurgency.

"The government of Nigeria clearly needs to address this issue with what we call a multi-pronged approach that focuses generally on the security threat that Boko Haram represents. Also, in addressing economic and social conditions that exist in the North, communicating to northern populations, who have suffered most from the deprivations of these extremist attacks."

On the link between insurgents in Mali and Nigeria's Boko Haram, McCulley said, "We have seen reports for years about Boko Haram members travelling to Northern Mali for training and then returning to Nigeria."

He further explained that the US was not contemplating the deployment of its troops in the troubled West African nation.

His colleague in Bamako, Ambassador Mary Leonard, who participated in the teleconferencing, said there was a remarkable improvement in the security and social situation in Mali.

She, however, noted that ethnic tensions arising from allegations of human rights abuses by certain elements within the Malian armed forces, persisted.

According to her, the US has so carried out 91 air refuelling missions and airlifted 1,200 tonnes of equipment since January.

She added that many resources were committed to equipment, training and logistics for the ECOWAS military force and other contributors to the mission in Mali.

Leonard also explained that $6.5m is being committed to assisting Malian authorities conduct elections in July this year.

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