The release of 82 of the Chibok schoolgirls by their Boko Haram captors, after three years, is heart-warming, the U.S. government said.
Mr Nathan Holt, the Deputy Director, Office of West African Affairs, Bureau of African Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, made the remarks in Washington, D.C. via teleconference on: “Nigeria, a critical U.S. partner’’.
He said the release of the girls from captivity was also a positive development for them and their families.
“Many of you will have also followed the news of the release of the Chibok girls over the weekend.
“Obviously, that was a heart-warming and positive development for the young women involved and for their families.
“We’d like to point out that they’re among thousands of victims of Boko Haram and its offshoot, ISIS West Africa,’’ Holt said.
The U.S. envoy explained that his country was carrying out a lot of bilateral activities with Nigeria and multilateral cooperation, involving the UN.
He noted that Nigeria had an influential voice on the African continent.
“Again, that’s an overview of where we are in a very important bilateral relationship for us.
“I’d like to point out as well that we’ve worked together closely in the United Nations.
“We’ve worked together on issues of arms proliferation and nuclear questions.
“So, Nigeria has a voice in Africa that is quite influential.
“I’ve worked on Africa for most of my professional career and it’s very good to be in a good place with this group.’’
Holt regretted that Boko Haram terrorists had brought untold consequences on the country and its neighbours.
According to him, however, it is heart-warming that civilians, who have been displaced, are gradually gaining access to some of the recovered territories by military operations.
“One of the critical consequences of the Boko Haram and ISIS West Africa insurgency, which has been going on since 2009, is that it has produced terrible consequences for the population.
“As the military authorities have begun to coordinate their activities more effectively, they and the civilian authorities have gained access to areas previously under the control of Boko Haram.
“As that happens, we have all come to understand more clearly the true dimensions of the humanitarian crisis,’’ the envoy said.
But, he said that the military operations alone could not solve the problem in northeast of Nigeria.
“We are engaged with Nigeria and its neighbours, not only to provide humanitarian relief to the victims of this insurgency but to help them as security and intelligence partners to address the security dimensions of this problem’
“At the end of the day, I think we and our partners all recognise there’s no purely military solution.
“The hopes and aspirations of the people need to be met.
“Education, water and basic governance need to be provided in areas where it has not been provided before.
“And it’s a joint effort; there are no easy solutions, but we’re in this for the long haul.’’ (NAN)