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UN Secretary-General backs Nigeria’s integration of ex-Boko Haram insurgents

By Dennis Erezi
04 May 2022   |   2:59 pm
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said he fully supports the Nigerian government's initiatives to rehabilitate and integrate former Boko Haram and ISWAP fighters. Guterres, who is in Nigeria on an official visit, said it was a key step to achieving peace in the West African country, Reuters reported on Wednesday. Guterres told a news…

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said he fully supports the Nigerian government’s initiatives to rehabilitate and integrate former Boko Haram and ISWAP fighters.

Guterres, who is in Nigeria on an official visit, said it was a key step to achieving peace in the West African country, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

Guterres told a news conference that the integration programme would help achieve peace.

“The governor has told me that you need to create new facilities to be able to have effective reintegration of these ex-terrorists, ex-combatants, and I promised that we would be fully supportive of that project,” Guterres said.

“The best thing we can do for peace is to reintegrate those who in the moment of despair became terrorists but now want to become citizens and to contribute to the well-being of their brothers and sisters.”

Guterres urged continued humanitarian support in Borno State and appealed to the government to help the people in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps to return to their homes “in safety and dignity.”

Nigeria has been fighting Islamist group Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) for over 10 years.

The conflict has claimed the lives of thousands and displaced millions of residents who are taking refuge at IDP.

The Nigerian government in mid-March announced the graduation of 559 former Boko Haram fighters in its rehabilitation programme.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari in September 2015 established the Operation Safe Corridor to encourage willing and repentant Boko Haram members to surrender and go through a well-structured rehabilitation and deradicalisation and reintegration programmes.

The programmed tagged de-radicalisation, rehabilitation and reintegration (DRR) programme has graduated over 1000 former Boko Haram members who graduated from the programme since 2015, according to its coordinator Joseph Maina.

The programme commenced in 2016 by a committee constituted by the chief of defence staff to operationalise the mandate of President Buhari.

Borno state Governor Babagana Zulum said at least 40,000 Boko Haram fighters and their families have surrendered to authorities since 2021 after the death of their leader Abubakar Shekau.